Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - CNRP blamed for land woes

CNRP blamed for land woes

A section of cleared forest is pictured in Mondulkiri last year. Yesterday an environment official blamed the opposition party and human rights groups for the destruction of the country’s protected areas.
A section of cleared forest is pictured in Mondulkiri last year. Yesterday an environment official blamed the opposition party and human rights groups for the destruction of the country’s protected areas. Heng Chivoan

CNRP blamed for land woes

A senior environment official yesterday alleged that the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party and human rights groups should shoulder much of the blame for the destruction of the country’s protected areas.

Speaking at a seminar in Phnom Penh, Srun Sarith, a deputy director in the Ministry of Environment, said the government faced serious difficulties in solving land disputes because the CNRP and rights groups had encouraged people living near national parks and wildlife sanctuaries to go into the logging business by supporting their claims to the land.

“To put it simply, a group enters and occupies land illegally and they start to protest for the land. They [the CNRP and rights groups] prepare documents for their protests,” he said. “This causes serious problems for us to deal with these cases.”

In September, a leading resource monitoring group, Global Forest Watch, estimated that the rate of deforestation in Cambodia had accelerated faster than any other country in the world since 2001.

Numerous economic land concessions, leases mostly granted for agro-industrial projects, were handed out in or near protected areas to private companies, which analysts blame for driving the forest loss.

Yem Ponharith, a spokesman for the CNRP, yesterday denied the charge made by Sarith.

“The rights to land should be clearly demarcated between state land and people’s land,” he said. “When land grabs happen, people lose out, then more people come along and they end up losing all of their land. I really hope the authorities will thoroughly study this issue.”

Latt Ky, the head of local rights group Adhoc’s land and natural resources section, said that the large-scale forest clearance Cambodia has witnessed in recent years was driven almost exclusively by powerful officials.

Officials and local communities “should cooperate to take stringent measures to eradicate impunity so that protected areas can be maintained”, he said.

Ministry of Environment official Kim Nong, speaking at the seminar yesterday, said the ministry expects that by 2020 at least half of Cambodia’s protected areas will have their outer boundaries demarcated and many will have “conservation zones” that are protected from future developments.

A new management plan for the areas due to come into effect next year will require an additional $9.4 million until 2020, which could come from international donors, but also from redirecting tax revenue and fines, he added.

MOST VIEWED

  • PM imposes nationwide Covid restrictions, curfew over Delta scare

    Prime Minister Hun Sen late on July 28 instructed the municipal and provincial authorities nationwide to strictly enforce Covid-19 measures including curfew for two weeks from July 29 midnight through August 12 to stem the new coronavirus Delta variant. The instruction came shortly after he issued a directive

  • Two luxury hotels latest quarantine options for inbound travellers

    The Inter-Ministerial Committee to Combat Covid-19 has designated two luxury hotels as alternative quarantine options for travellers who wish to enter Cambodia through Phnom Penh International Airport – Sokha Phnom Penh Hotel & Residence and the Courtyard by Marriott Phnom Penh. In a notice detailing guidelines issued

  • Provinces on Thai borders put in lockdown amid Delta fears

    The government has decided to place several border provinces in lockdown for two weeks in a bid to prevent the new coronavirus Delta variant spreading further into community. According a directive signed by Prime Minister Hun Sen late on July 28, the provinces include Koh Kong,

  • Delta spreading in Kingdom

    Cambodia has so far detected more than 200 cases of the highly contagious coronavirus Delta variant, with 109 found on July 31 and August 1. The Ministry of Health has expressed deep concerns that the variant may have already reached communities and be spreading as some of the cases

  • US' Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccines arrive

    The first batch of 455,000 doses of the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine donated by the US touched down in Phnom Penh on the morning of July 30. They are part of the total 1,060,100 doses the US has pledged to provide to Cambodia through the World Health Organisation-led (

  • China denies Mekong hacking

    As the US and its allies joined hands last week to expose what they allege to be China’s Ministry of State Security’s malicious cyber activities around the world, the attention also turned to Cambodia with the US Department of Justice claiming that four