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Activists call on government to adopt forest law

Activists call on government to adopt forest law

130123 05
Members of communities that depend on Prey Lang forest for their livelihoods have frequently voiced concerns about illegal logging and the granting of economic land concessions in the forest. Photograph: Photograph supplied/Phnom Penh Post

Members of the Prey Lang Community Network yesterday called on the government to approve a forest preservation sub-decree that has been in draft form since 2011.

Hoeun Sopheap, representative of the Kampong Thom provincial Prey Lang community, said the sub-decree would help protect the biodiversity of the forest – which stretches across four provinces – and reduce criminal activity in the area by encouraging cooperative patrols.

“As far as crime goes, it’s become like anarchy in Prey Lang,” he said at a press conference held at the offices of the NGO Forum on Cambodia in the capital yesterday.

“I insist the authorities cooperate with the Prey Lang Community Network to prevent illegal logging.”

Svay Phoeun, a representative of Preah Vihear provincial ethnic villagers, said the sub-decree would help preserve the forest, which holds an important place in the customs and culture of people who live in and around it.

“We want the authorities to cooperate with us in order to have one voice,” he said, adding that communities wanted to be more involved in discussions with the government.

Phoeun, however, said the villagers were concerned about one article in the sub-decree that would outlaw types of foraging in the forest that they depend on for their livelihoods.

“We ask [authorities] to please delete this point... it will have an effect on our daily lives.”

The sub-decree, established in 2011, is designed to limit logging, burning and any development that affects forest wildlife.

Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan said the Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Environment had the responsibility of composing laws related to the forest.

The Council of Ministers was the “last institution” when it came to approving such sub-decrees, Siphan added, before declining to comment further.

Representatives from the Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Environment could not be reached yesterday.

The Prey Lang communities also called for the government to reveal the details of economic land concessions, recognise the community network and delete various business licences issued in the area.

To contact the reporter on this story: May Titthara at [email protected]

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