The government has announced the establishment of the Cardamom Mountain National Park, a sprawling natural reserve covering nearly 930,000ha across five provinces.

Under a new sub-decree dated July 17, voiding those from 2016 and 2017, the area’s landscape, ecosystems and biodiversity are now safeguarded for future generations to study, explore and enjoy.

Combining three distinct areas, the national park includes the South Cardamom Mountain National Park, the Central Cardamom Mountain National Park, and the Cardamom Mountain Biodiversity Conservation Corridor.

The Cardamom Mountain National Park is not just a testament to nature’s splendour. It is a move aligned with the government’s sustainable development goals, looking to maintain stability, lessen climate change impacts and reduce natural disaster threats, all the while encouraging sustainable use of natural resources.

“The Ministry of Environment – in collaboration with relevant institutions and the provincial administrations of Koh Kong, Pursat, Kampong Speu, Sihanoukville and Battambang – is empowered to oversee the preparation, modification and management of the Cardamom Mountain National Park,” stated the decree.

“The key goals include environmental management, biodiversity conservation and the sustainable utilisation of natural resources,” it further outlined.

This new initiative shines a spotlight on the importance of local communities in environmental protection, biodiversity conservation and sustainable living. It underscores the shared responsibility in guarding the region’s natural riches.

The legal foundations laid by previous sub-decrees will continue to remain in effect until new regulations are brought into alignment with this initiative. This includes matters related to community zoning, sustainable use areas, and the issuance of land titles or permits.

Pursat provincial governor Khoy Rida spoke warmly of the new designation on August 9.

“The establishment of new or existing national parks is intended to safeguard natural resources,” he said, voicing support for the government’s action and pledging a commitment to protect the Cardamom Mountains.

He went on to explain that the creation of the national park is an investment in both the present and future generations.

Emphasising its importance, he noted that the allocation of conservation management responsibilities is a decision yet to be made at the national level, demonstrating that this milestone for environmental conservation is just the beginning.

Rida further elaborated on the importance of the rules governing the park’s management.

“Currently, at the sub-national level, we are awaiting guidelines on how to proceed. We cannot act solely at our own discretion. However, it’s essential to address any breaches of the rule of law and curb all forms of disorder promptly,” said Rida.

Battambang provincial environment department director Kot Boran echoed these sentiments and assured the commitment to work with the government in protecting the Cardamom Mountain National Park.

This breathtaking region not only boasts dense forests but also holds vast potential for eco-tourism.

“We are dedicated to protecting this region, which is located on the border of Pursat and often referred to as the ‘two crocodiles’ area. It is a picturesque location. We will establish a headquarters to actively contribute to its maintenance, given the dense forests present,” said Boran.

The establishment of the Cardamom Mountain National Park signifies more than a merger of beautiful landscapes. It is a symbol of unity, conservation and the long-term vision for a sustainable future.

As officials prepare to bring this vision to life, tourists and nature enthusiasts can look forward to exploring the remarkable beauty and diversity that these mountains have to offer.