The Ministry of Environment is setting up border posts around protected areas to prevent illegal forest encroachment, according to ministry spokesman Neth Pheaktra.

Pheaktra said border posts have already been set up to mark five natural protected areas. They include Peam Krasop Wildlife Sanctuary, Phnom Prich Wildlife Sanctuary, Srepok Wildlife Sanctuary, Siem Pang Wildlife Sanctuary and Lumphat Wildlife Sanctuary.

The demarcation and division could include an additional 20 areas, including Prey Lang Wildlife Sanctuary, Keo Seima Wildlife Sanctuary and other wildlife sanctuaries under the ministry’s jurisdiction.

“We have set up 2,000 main border posts in natural protected areas and continue to set up more.

“In connection with the planting of the border posts, it is important to be able to clearly define the areas we need to protect. We divide protected areas into four categories – core areas, conservation areas, multi-use areas, and community areas,” he said.

Pheaktra said the ministry is continuing to implement the recommendation presented during the plenary meeting of the Council of Ministers on July 3, at which Prime Minister Hun Sen ordered three ministries – Environment; Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction; and Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries – to study and compile research on land that people have been depending for many years in the protected areas. The land will be given to the people.

Chea Hean, director of the NGO Anti-Corruption, Natural Resource Protection and Civil Rights Protection (ACNCIPO), said on November 10 the demarcation in protected and conservation areas is a good way to protect state land. He said however that clearing of and encroachment on state forest land have erupted and there are not enough rangers to prevent it.

“Currently, state land in the protected area of Prey Lang and national parks is still being encroached on, although the government has ordered relevant ministries and institutions to prevent it. Encroachment seems to be happening again because local law enforcement is ineffective,” he said.

According to an environment ministry report, the government has implemented the National Strategic Plan for the Management of Protected Areas 2017-2031. The plan is expected to contribute significantly to national economic growth and sustainable development, including poverty reduction, especially through conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity, natural resources and natural cultural resources, and ecosystem services.

According to the report, protected areas have increased from 23 to 68 areas with a total area of about 7.3 million hectares, or 41 per cent of Cambodia’s land area. The sites are located in 20 provinces.

The 68 protected areas include 11 national parks, 19 wildlife sanctuaries, 13 landscape protection areas, eight multi-use areas, a Ramsar (wetlands area), a natural heritage area, a Marine National Park and one mixed conservation corridor area.