Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Activists say mangroves under threat

Activists say mangroves under threat

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Activists say deforestation of coastal mangrove wetlands has been taking place in Preah Sihanouk’s Prey Nob district. SUPPLIED

Activists say mangroves under threat

Some of Cambodia’s fishing communities and civil society organisations are expressing great concern over the ongoing loss of mangrove forests in coastal areas due to illegal encroachment as well as legal coastal development projects. They called on relevant authorities to intervene on the matter.

The concerns of the community were voiced at a regional conference on land and natural resource governance in the coastal areas of Preah Sihanouk, Kampot, Kep and Koh Kong, held in Phnom Penh in late October with nearly 200 participants.

Cambodian National Research Organisation director Sok Sokhom, who attended the conference, told The Post on November 1 that the loss of the mangrove forests was also a loss of natural resources and biodiversity because mangrove forests were the birthplace of marine biodiversity and it is the frontline defence for protecting the coast from landslides and erosion.

Animals such as squid, crabs and snails originate in the mangrove forests and then move out into the ocean.

“If the mangrove forests are completely destroyed, those sea species will not have any place to breed anymore,” he said.

Sokhom said mangrove forests also have many other benefits such as creating oxygen, carbon sequestration and reducing environmental toxins.

“If we develop and enrich our marine resources and improve fishermen’s livelihoods, the coastal mangrove forest will be sustainable. It can attract both national and international tourists. The coastal area is full of natural mangrove forests and beaches,” he said.

Sen Sin, a community leader in the Trapeang Chamkar Krom protected area of Koh Kong province, said on November 1 that many hectares of mangrove forest in her community were being encroached upon despite community efforts to patrol them.

She said some opportunists moved in and secretly cleared many hectares while authorities were occupied with Covid-19 fight.

“They cleared the mangrove forest during the outbreak of Covid-19 when we didn’t patrol regularly as we normally did. So my committee is worried and I do not know what to do to find these bad people,” she said.

According to the report of the 2021 Regional Conference on Land and Natural Resources Governance, mangrove forests have been lost due to several problematic activities, including the illegal encroachment on mangrove forestland, illegal construction and legal land concessions to coastal development companies.

Deforestation of mangrove forests to use their timber to make furniture, construction or charcoal, the privatisation of fishing communities and the licensing of ecotourism developments on mangrove land are also factors contributing to the loss, it said.

“These activities have had social and environmental impacts, such as the loss of marine habitats and other biodiversity, the loss of ecosystems and marine equilibrium, coastal erosion, the loss of wind barriers – this leads to a greater risk for natural disasters to strike in a way that affects the incomes of the local people,” the report said.

It said 50ha out of a total of 522ha of mangrove forest in the Chroy Svay community protected area – consisting of six villages in Koh Kong province’s Chroy Svay commune – have now been cleared illegally.

This illegal encroachment has affected the governance of the forests and its natural resources and biodiversity, as well as the economies of local communities that normally benefit from these natural resources and ecotourism.

According to Sokhom, the provincial administrations of Kampot, Kep and Koh Kong have accepted the request from the community asking for protection of the mangrove forests. They also pledged to address the issues, especially to preserving natural resources related to mangrove forests in coastal areas.

“Authorities in those three provinces thanked the fishing community for giving them the information. But they said the development project was beyond their jurisdiction, although they will try to facilitate an intervention with those people,” he said.

Kep provincial deputy governor Vao Sokha said on November 2 that in order to protect mangrove forest, the authorities have cooperated with the Fisheries Administration with the focus on building border posts to protect the mangrove forest in risky areas and to deploy patrols in cooperation with the village, commune and district authorities.

“We are ready to put up about 70 guard posts in any at-risk areas,” he said. “But the place has to have a road or stream adjacent to it for access. But for areas that don’t have clear boundaries and are near both private land and state land, we will set up defence posts,” he said.


  • Ministry orders all schools, public and private, to close for SEA Games

    From April 20 to May 18, all public and private educational institutions will be closed to maintain order and support Cambodia's hosting of the 32nd SEA Games and 12th ASEAN Para Games, said a directive from the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport. Cambodia will host the

  • Newest horror film showcases unique Khmer culture, identity

    At first glance, the trailer to new horror sensation The Ritual: Black Nun looks like a western-produced feature film. As the story reveals itself to the viewers, it becomes clearer that this is a Khmer film, with a strong Cambodian identity and close links to

  • Almost 9K tourists see equinox sunrise at Angkor Wat

    Nearly 9,000 visitors – including 2,226 international tourists – gathered at Angkor Wat on March 21 to view the spring equinox sunrise, according to a senior official of the Siem Reap provinical tourism department. Ngov Seng Kak, director of the department, said a total of 8,726 people visited Angkor Wat to

  • Angkor Beer strengthens national pride with golden new look and fresher taste

    Angkor Beer – the "Gold of Angkor" – has a new look, one that is more stylish and carries a premium appeal, as well as a fresher taste and smoother flavour, making it the perfect choice for any gathering. Angkor Beer recently launched its new design, one

  • Water supply authority assures public shortages over early ‘24

    The Phnom Penh Water Supply Authority (PPWSA) asked for understanding from Phnom Penh residents in some communes where water pressure is weak. They assured residents that all supply issues will be resolved by early 2024, but have suggested that residents use water sparingly in the meantime.

  • Khmer ballet documentary debuts April 1

    A new documentary, The Perfect Motion, or Tep Hattha in Khmer, will premiere to the public on April 1. The documentary film follows two intertwined storylines: the creation of a show called Metamorphosis by the late Princess Norodom Buppha Devi (her very last production) and the