Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Forest activism ‘just a cover’

Forest activism ‘just a cover’

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Ministry secretary of state and spokesperson Neth Pheaktra. Hean Rangsey

Forest activism ‘just a cover’

The Ministry of Environment has warned of legal action against non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and associations which it said had used environmental activism as a cover to attack the government.

In a letter dated April 24, it said some unregistered NGOs are also carrying out activities in protected natural areas under its jurisdiction without notifying it.

“For NGOs or associations that continue their activities in an anarchic and illegal manner in natural resource areas, the Ministry of Environment will be left with no choice but to take legal measures, especially under the Law on Environmental Protection and Natural Resource Management.

“The ministry requests all relevant authorities to help monitor their activities and take legal action against any NGOs or associations that defy the law,” the statement said.

Ministry secretary of state and spokesperson Neth Pheaktra told The Post on Sunday that some NGOs, associations and individuals had disguised themselves as environment officials or rangers to extort money from people and for other puposes.

He said some unregistered NGOs and associations had carried out activities without notifying the ministry.

“Their activities are anarchic and politically motivated. Actually, they are not doing anything to protect natural resources. If they continue, the ministry will take action,” he said.

In its letter, the ministry said NGOs and associations are encouraged to join the government in natural resource protection as long as they abided by the law.

“Registered NGOs or associations are welcome to participate in protecting and conserving natural resources, biodiversity, ecosystem, and raising the living standards of communities within and near-natural resource areas, but they must follow the law,” it said.

Cheang Ly, a Prey Lang Community Network (PLCN) member and community representative in Stung Treng province, acknowledged that some individuals had presented themselves as forest rangers to extort money from residents who transport timber on homemade trucks or boats in local communities.

“They impersonated forest rangers. I’ve received a report that they demanded 100,000 riel [$25] per home-made truck.

They are not from the PLCN working group, but use our name to extort money from residents,” she said.

The ministry said it currently manages protected natural areas and biodiversity corridors in 60 locations totalling 7.2 million hectares, equivalent to 41 per cent of Cambodia’s landmass.

It said 1,260 forest rangers are stationed around the clock in each area in collaboration with the local authorities, NGOs, associations and local communities.

Last week, the ministry also warned of legal action against PLCN and several other organisations if they continued to collect deforestation data.

The warning came after PLCN suggested a new programme that would use satellite imagery to monitor and collect information on forest clearance in Prey Lang after the ministry banned the group from patrolling it.

Pheaktra said the community network was being exploited for political purposes.

The Prey Lang Wildlife Sanctuary was established in May 2016 and covers 431,683ha across Stung Treng, Kratie, Kampong Thom, and Preah Vihear provinces.

MOST VIEWED

  • Omicron patients can stay home: PM

    The Ministry of Health has issued a directive on the treatment of people who have tested positive for the highly transmissible Omicron coronavirus variant, following a suggestion from Prime Minister Hun Sen on the night of January 21. The directive permits home quarantine for those who

  • Cambodia’s first ever anime festival kicks off Jan 22 at capital’s F3 centre

    Phnom Penh's first ever Anime Festival will bring together fans, artists, shops and other local businesses with ties to the Japanese animation style for cosplay competitions, online games, pop-up shops and more on January 22, with Friends Futures Factory (F3) hosting. F3 is a project that

  • Mr Pancake or M Crepe? Tasty by any title

    Crowds of people gather around a lone man with a mobile food cart every day at around 2pm in front of the Institut Francais du Cambodge to order what many say are the best crepes in Phnom Penh. To some – even to the man making

  • Fourth dose Covid booster drive jabs 43K in two days

    In the first two days of the fourth-dose Covid-19 vaccination campaign, more than 43,000 people volunteered to get the jabs, while over 4.6 million people have received a third shot. Health ministry spokeswoman Or Vandine said that fourth-dose vaccinations, which began on January 14 exclusively with the Pfizer

  • Singapore backs Cambodia's efforts on Myanmar

    Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong supports Cambodia in its efforts to seek a solution to the ongoing Myanmar crisis as the chair of ASEAN. Lee expressed his support during a meeting with Prime Minister Hun Sen via videoconference on January 14, with the talks focused

  • PM sets tourism reopening as centrepiece of ATF 2022

    Prime Minister Hun Sen urged ASEAN to reopen tourism and trade now that many of the bloc’s member countries have vaccinated their populations. Speaking at the 40th ASEAN Tourism Forum 2022 (ATF 2022) in Preah Sihanouk province on January 18, the premier also said ASEAN has a