Some 10 environmental activists launched the Riding a Bicycle for Prey Preah Roka campaign from November 29 to December 2.
They will ride across 300km from Phnom Penh to Preah Vihear province to promote natural resource protection and conservation amid threats of deforestation in the forestry and wildlife preserve.
San Mala, the youth group’s representative, said the campaign was launched due to evident signs of deforestation and illegal logging conducted in the preserve.
“We want to promote Prey Preah Roka because some people remain unaware of its existence. The campaign also aims to seek support from [Cambodians] to protect it.
“We want the government, especially the Ministry of Environment, to establish more thorough and effective measures to stop forest crimes which continue unabated despite the preserve being declared a wildlife sanctuary in 2016,” Mala said.
The youth group and local communities had noticed the recent escape of wild animals from the forest into their villages due to poachers that use loud pieces of machinery, driving away the animals from the safety of their natural environment.
“After completing the campaign, we will write a letter petitioning the Ministry of Environment to prove what we had witnessed through photos taken during our recent visit to the forest and ask the ministry to intervene.
“It has come to our attention the ministry’s protective and monitoring measures still has a lot of loopholes,” he said.
Ministry’s spokesman Neth Pheaktra considered the campaign a right of the youth but said that they should obey the existing law on Environmental Protection and Natural Resources Management.
“The ministry welcomes every loyal and legal activity that helps to protect and preserve natural resources. The ministry has prepared enough strategies [for the protection of the preserve], including training rangers to patrol at the protected areas,” he said.
He said 17 rangers are stationed at Prey Preah Roka and patrol the forest day and night.
The ministry said it had set several plans regarding forest protection, among which are registering such areas to protect forest lands from illegal land grabbers, improving the ability of rangers to patrol and equipping them with weapons, with the approval of the ministries of Interior and National Defense.
It has also been cracking down on natural resource and forest crimes, of which the minister attested that no large-scale illegal operations remained.