The Ministry of Environment, relevant institutions and the Cambodian Youth Network (CYN) on March 21 launched an online Cambodian forest projection campaign to celebrate World Forest Day under the theme “Forest Restoration” to show the public the importance of forests for mankind.

Environment ministry spokesman Neth Pheaktra told The Post that because the Covid-19 crisis had yet to subside, the ministry could not prepare a big programme or hold a mass gathering to celebrate the event in person and instead launched the campaign on the ministry’s Facebook page.

“These past few days, we have posted information regarding forests to make citizens realise and learn about them. So, they can take part in the protection and conservation of forests,” he said.

He added that thanks to efforts to manage and conserve protected areas, forest resources have improved despite still having certain challenges and small-scale offences.

“Over the last 10 years, we have seen the situation of protecting and conserving natural resources improve. There are no longer large-scale offences. It means that people no longer use chainsaws to saw timbers in the middle of forests and sleep in the middle of forests. But there are still small-scale offences such as home-made tractors, motorcycles and other activities. These problems still arise in natural protected areas,” he continued.

Separately, the Apsara National Authority on March 19 planted 150 tree saplings for greening the Angkor zone, conserving temples and increasing wildlife habitats.

CYN’s programme manager Heng Kimhong said the forest advocacy campaign will last for three months from March 15 and some activities were online.

Forest activists celebrate World Forest Day in Kampong Thom province. Facebook

He added that the working group had started the campaign on Facebook on March 15 to promote the message of recognising the importance of forests for mankind in the world.

“Until now, we have joined the campaign by changing profiles and posted on Facebook under the slogan ‘Please stop loggers, don’t arrest protectors’. There have been over 1,100 loggers,” he said.

Kimhong added that when the Covid-19 situation subsides, he would present a petition to the ministries of environment and interior requesting a dialogue on the problem of forests in Cambodia. He said he made the decision after observing that in the first three months of the year, forest protection activities had been restricted.

Kimhong said activists could not enter protected areas to protect the forests, while forest activists in Kratie province had been detained.

Pheaktra said the ministry was glad to let activists and various partners participate in protecting and conserving natural resources and biodiversity in protected area as long as they respect proper procedures. Those partners have to fulfil a legal obligation first – they need to register, especially the Law on Association and Non-Governmental Organisations.

“For the environment ministry, we don’t oppose nature lovers and participants who protect natural resources. But what we require them to do is respect the law,” he said.