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Youth participate in a debate yesterday during a Prey Lang forest community meeting in Phnom Penh. Photo supplied
Youth participate in a debate yesterday during a Prey Lang forest community meeting in Phnom Penh. Photo supplied

Students debate forest protection measures

A group of university students in Phnom Penh yesterday organised a debate on how to protect Prey Lang, with the winners standing to receive a trip to the critical forest preserve.

The “Prey Lang Forum”, held at Zaman University in Phnom Penh, sought to raise awareness of the conservation issues facing the forest.

Topics revolved around sustainably developing Prey Lang without destroying the environment, and including the voice of the communities that live there in development decisions.

“I am very happy to have 300 participants” in the debate, said Ly Srey Sros, 21, one of the event’s three organisers. “When we visited Prey Lang last year, it was under destruction.

We felt pity; we more than love it. Secondly, we want to see the development there done not behind the scenes.”

The executive director of the NGO Forum on Cambodia, Tek Vannara, who participated in the debate as a judge, said Prey Lang is ecologically important as a habitat around Tonle Sap lake, adding that the forest is critical to local temple tourism.

Vannara praised the government in cracking down on illegal logging, but said it should also have a clear action plan to protect the remaining forest going forward.

Curtis Hundley, chief of party at USAID’s biodiversity project, agreed that Prey Lang must be protected as the hub of biodiversity around Tonle Sap.

The debate will continue next month. Winners will get a free trip to Prey Lang in mid-2016.

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