In earlier times, drought, which caused food shortages for the farmers, was thought
to have been caused by the anger of the gods.
However, in the last few years, throughout the world, including some areas of Cambodia,
gods have not been causing such incidents-rather it is humans themselves, to put
it straightforwardly, who are causing the destruction of forests.
Some years lately, even in September which is known as a rainy month, a mini-dry
season occurs in the middle of the monsoon season. During this time clouds of dust
can be seen blowing in the air in the rice-producing provinces of Battambang, Prey
Veng and Takeo, not to mention Kompot, Kompong Som, Koh Kong, and the northeastern
region which is covered with forests that attract some rain.
Hundreds of thousands of cubic meters of trees in the east, the west and the northwest
of Cambodia have been cut off every year.
This is the main factor which contributes to the changing of the weather in the country
from normal to hotter and hotter. And it is nothing less than human beings who provoke
As more and more deforested land is exposed to sunlight and reflection, the temperature
rises more and more. This also constitutes an alarm signal from nature to human beings
that their over-exploitation is placing a heavy burden on nature and must be stopped
or reduced if more disasters of even greater proportion are to be avoided.
To avoid serious problems which might be inflicted on our nation, the deforestation
must be curtailed or, better still, stopped immediately.
Such fearsome, sorrowful activity should not be ignored and it is very necessary
for the authorities to launch more effective measures to deal with this problem.
Alarm signals appear to have fallen on deaf ears among authorities and decisions
makers, however. Despite the logging ban passed in the aftermath of last year's devastating
flood, illegal logging still continues unabated in vast parts of the country.
According to a document on the protection of Cambodia's environment drafted by the
United Nations Development Program (UNDP), the State of Cambodia has exported 320,000
cubic meters of timber, the Khmer Rouge has exported 200,000 cubic meters, FUNCINPEC
has exported 128,000 cubic meters and the KPNLF has exported 50,000 cubic meters.
Moreover, 250,000 cubic meters have been exported illegally to Vietnam and 200,000
cubic meters have been exported illegally to Thailand through Laos, not to mention
the cutting of trees for construction and fuelwood in the countryside.
The document also affirms that, from l985 to l991, the State of Cambodia planted
saplings over 2,062 hectares of land and in l992 it plans to grow 2,000 more hectares.
According to this document, we see that the number of trees planted every year does
not correspond to the increasing number of trade contracts with foreign companies
in the coming years.
Worse still, it is very hard to find somebody who could be responsible for this matter
because the big companies earn lots of money and they conceive so many tactful ideas
to make the laws ineffective and the only thing they would blame was "the war."
During the l960s, the Arbor Day was observed every year and after a long hiatus it
was held again this year on July 9, under the leadership of Prince Norodom Sihanouk.
The very small opinion of the people would like to appeal again and again to all
the Khmer factions to be responsible, with a high sense of awareness, for the solution
to this matter and to properly respond to the estimation of the country's nature.
- Reprinted with permission from Pracheachun newspaper, July 12 edition.