The Sorng Rukhavorn Forest Community in Oddar Meanchey province has issued a call for all to take part in the protection and conservation of forests and wild animals.
At the 19th anniversary of establishing the central headquarters for the Sorng Rukhavorn Forest Community on Sunday, provincial chief monk, the Venerable Bun Saluth who heads the community, said four main challenges were being faced by the community.
He said forest fires, and illegal hunting, fishing and logging, all pose threats to the forest as the community and rangers attempt to protect the Sorng Rukhavorn Wildlife Sanctuary area.
“These challenges not only cause the loss of forests, but also biodiversity as wildlife and fish disappear from the forest, especially rare animals which are vulnerable and endangered,” he said.
He said natural resource offenders mostly use snares, electric shock equipment, chainsaws and explosive devices to carry out their crimes in the area. Thousands of these tools were seized each year, he said.
He called on former offenders to change their ways and protect the forest rather than plunder it for their benefit as doing so would benefit the community and country in the future.
“Let us all abandon egocentric ideas that can lead ourselves and the community, including the whole nation, into extinction. We must be united to do well for the sake of the prosperity of the community and our nation,” he said.
Provincial Department of Environment director Phuong Lina said protecting natural resources in the wildlife sanctuary is not the exclusive role of the forest community, department rangers or the Ministry of Environment. He said it is a shared responsibility.
“In fact, among all the wildlife sanctuary areas in Oddar Meanchey province, Sorng Rukhavorn Wildlife Sanctuary is the best because the local community, civil society organisations and relevant authorities collaborate well in protecting, conserving and going down to observe, monitor and crack down on offenders regularly,” he said.
He acknowledged that natural resource crimes continue in the sanctuary and demanded the participation of all in the fight against such acts.
Lina said besides strengthening patrols to stop and crack down on forest and wild animal crimes, sanctuary rangers last year planted Kranhuong timber to restore 3ha of land.
They also dug lanes in the protected area to prevent forest fires on 70 per cent of the total 30,256ha of land in the sanctuary.
Oddar Meanchey provincial deputy governor Huon Manith urged relevant authorities to enforce the law and collaborate well with residents, especially within the Sorng Rukhavorn Forest Community.
He urged the rangers to also educate offenders so they do not repeat their acts and called on communities to hand over illegal equipment they had hidden in the past to avoid legal action.