The Ang Trapeang Thmor Protected Landscape community in Banteay Meanchey province’s Phnom Srok district was formally recognised by the Ministry of Environment on June 20, with local people standing to benefit from the protection of the area’s natural resources.

The community lies in the district’s Poy Char commune and consists of 230 households representing more than 1,600 people from eight villages over an area of 40ha.

The establishment of the community was intended for the local people to join the ministry in protecting natural resources and report wildlife offences in the area, which is also important for fish conservation.

Moeurn Samuy, head of the Banteay Meanchey community development office, said on June 21 that Ang Trapeang Thmor Protected Landscape also included the Kon Khleng Protected Natural Area community.

This community was in the process of being formally recognised so the local people could also actively join the ministry in protecting the rare wildlife present in the area, which included muntjac deer and many species of birds.

Chuop Paris, head of the ministry’s General Department of Environmental Knowledge and Information, said on June 20 that Ang Trapeang Thmor is a popular tourist attraction.

“This area is also a place for the community to generate income from acting as tour guides to walk tourists through the forest to learn about the important natural resources, the community products on sale and the local food,” he said.

Taing Sakhorn, head of the Ang Trapeang Thmor community, said on June 21 that as it had just been established, plans were yet to be fully laid out. The community members traditionally cultivated land, raised animals, fished and acted as guides, he added.

Commune chief Khouth Khuon said the community administration had collaborated with environment officials to prevent wildlife offences, particularly illegal fishing using electrocution and trawl nets.

“We have also prohibited the hunting of animals because the birds here are rare and a major attraction for tourists,” he said.

Samuy said more than 200 species of birds, including cranes, resided in the area and were a big draw for tourists.

“Our area has rare cranes among more than 200 bird species, according to Wildlife Conservation Society Cambodia [WCS Cambodia] – with tourists wanting to see the cranes and painted storks the most,” he said.

Ang Trapeang Thmor is attractive for tourists because they can take boat trips and go camping, Samuy said, while local products of the area included silk and prahok fermented fish paste, which in the future will be produced for tourists to increase incomes for the community.

The ministry had recently erected a 12m tower in the Ang Trapeang Thmor area so tourists can better watch the birds and enjoy the stunning views, he added.