Ministry of Environment secretary of state Mom Thany expressed hope on Tuesday that in-depth discussions on natural resource protection and conservation measures between 168 officials and natural resource conservation communities would bear fruit.
Addressing 500 participants at this year’s Natural Resource Conservation Community Network Conference at the ministry, Thany said despite the positive results of their environmental initiatives, some problems still remained.
However, she believed the challenges could be overcome if those concerned worked together to come up with ways of resolving the issues.
“We should take this opportunity to talk in depth about the roles and duties of community networks, along with how we can improve access to the communities through roads and infrastructure. We have to improve on these to strengthen our community networks,” said Thany.
She noted that community networks must help one another in protecting and conserving natural resources. Forests must also be used sustainably to support and improve the livelihoods of communities that rely on them.
The discussions should identify the needs of all community networks, Thany said.
The ministry’s local departments are allowed to evaluate the needs of these networks and respond through action plans to strengthen capacity and enhance efficiency.
“I believe that if the departments work closely with the 168 communities, our achievements will multiply tenfold. With this, we insist on the participation of members of the community in protected areas,” she said.
As of the middle of this year, the ministry had established 168 community protected areas, encompassing 35 community networks in 24 natural protection areas across 17 provinces.
Rath Roeuy, the head of the local community network of Preah Jayavarman-Norodom National Park in Siem Reap province, told The Post that he currently manages five communities that aim to protect and preserve natural resources in their localities.
Previously, few communities participated in natural resource conservation due to poverty. The residents were preoccupied with making ends meet and sustaining their daily living, said Roeuy.
However, they have recently started taking part in conservation measures with the promise of eco-tourism as a strategy to protect natural resources, while also meeting their living needs.
Roeuy said land-clearing activities for personal gain have lessened compared to two to four years ago.
Such activities had occurred because loggers were not yet aware of the significance of for forest conservation and its potential.
“I want the government to help and support families that are suffering from poverty. I want [the government] to make known to the public the legal penalties against deforestation and the benefits of forest conservation to communities,” he said.