Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Bokor: some good news at last

Bokor: some good news at last

Bokor: some good news at last

A DANISH NGO which has just completed a survey of Bokor National Park says that there

has been a dramatic reduction in logging in the south of the park since the beginning

of this year - but that unless the government ploughs more money into the protected

site, there could easily be a reversal of fortune.

Dr Jan Peterfeil, Managing Director of Forest Ecology for the NGO Nepenthes, who

spent two weeks surveying the site, said he had delivered a report to the Minstry

of Environment detailing reccommendations for the park's protection.

Top of the list includes the provision of more support for the park's 12 rangers,

who, despite salaries of only 50,000 riel a month and little support from the authorities,

have proven dedicated to protecting the park.

"It's quite dangerous for them," said Peterfeil. "They're in a kind

of no-man's-land up there, with little radio contact, and there are still people

logging illegally in the north of the park. We even heard rumors that there was a

price on the head of some of the rangers. But they're still doing a really impressive

job."

Peterfeil said logs had stopped coming out of the two southern checkpoints in the

park since the beginning of the year. In 1998, when Nepenthes conducted their first

survey, the number of logs had reached a maximum of nine a day - a rate that would

have decimated the park in a matter of years.

"We found that the tree growth rate is very slow in Bokor, which is partly to

do with the elevation of the land," Peterfeil said. Some of the trees that have

a diameter of just 40cm have been estimated by the NGO to be up to 200 years old.

"Removing just a small amount of timber influences the delicate balance of the

ecosystem," he said, noting that due to Bokor's proximity to the sea and steep

incline, a unique ecosystem has evolved, which "certainly contains rare species".

The study even uncovered a three-toed footprint which, according to Peterfeil, appears

to be that of either a tapir or rhinoceros. "There could be some really nice

surprises up there," he said. No detailed surveys have been done of the area

for decades.

But the report was not all good news. The area monitored comprises only 20 percent

of the national park; Peterfeil said he was sure that logs were still being taken

out of the forest from the north, where access is tricky and remote areas are controlled

by the military.

"We want to create a long-term plan - 10 or 20 years - for some kind of sustainable

development for the park," said Peterfeil, "but until we see that the whole

area is under control, we cannot talk about what kind of form the project would take."

Bokor is also a rich source for non-timber products, including resin, used to waterproof

boats, fruit trees, Chan Kresna, a kind of wood used for fragrances, medicinal plants,

and rattans used to make handicrafts. All these would come under threat from any

further logging of the site.

Peterfeil said he would be fundraising for the protected site back in Denmark, and

would be returning in just over a year's time to conduct a follow-up survey.

MOST VIEWED

  • Massive stingrays may live in Mekong’s deep pools

    US scientists have suggested that unexplored deep pools in the Mekong River in an area of Stung Treng could potentially be home to significant populations of giant freshwater stingrays, one of the world’s largest freshwater fish species. This comes as a fisherman hooked a 180

  • CCC team off on US business trip

    The Kingdom’s leading economists and private sector representatives have called on the US to renew its tax preferential status for Cambodian exports, as a Cambodia Chamber of Commerce (CCC) delegation departed for a weeklong business visit to the US, where they will meet with

  • PM takes time to meet, greet Cambodians living in the US

    After landing in the US ahead of the ASEAN-US Special Summit, Prime Minister Hun Sen was received by over 1,000 Cambodian-Americans including political analysts who welcomed him with greetings, fist bumps and selfies. Hun Sen also met with analyst Mak Hoeun, who had allegedly spoken ill

  • Khmer cinema classics back on big screen for free at WB Arena’s outdoor movies series

    On a recent Saturday evening at WB Arena, Bunsong was enjoying a tasty BBQ meal with his family after work on the long tables that had been arranged out in front of the restaurant as they watched a Khmer action movie on a big outdoor

  • PM heads to Washington for ASEAN-US special summit

    Regional and international issues and how to bring the ASEAN-US partnership to another level will be discussed at length as Prime Minister Hun Sen and his ministers arrive in Washington, DC, for a special summit on May 12-13. During the trip, Hun Sen and ASEAN

  • National Assembly refutes EU resolution

    The National Assembly (NA) has hit back at a European Parliament resolution condemning the political and human rights situation in Cambodia, calling it another display of the Parliament’s “double standards”. Key points of the resolution include a warning that the Parliament could exclude the