The Ministry of Environment is preparing to create a community fair to contribute to improving the living standards of communities and efficiently conserve natural resources.
However, environmental activists say the project is not efficient enough to prevent illegal logging.
The ministry announced on Wednesday that the project could start by mid-year with initial pilot projects in local communities in 17 naturally protected areas in Kampong Thom province.
Ministry secretary of state and spokesperson Neth Pheaktra declined to clarify the details on Thursday, pointing instead to the information posted on the ministry’s Facebook page.
It quoted Mom Thany, another secretary of state at the ministry speaking at the project team meeting.
He said: “The community exhibition project is really essential in helping improve the livelihoods of the local people and strengthening cooperation with all relevant stakeholders in natural resource management, the preservation of biodiversity, traditions, beliefs, and religions of the indigenous people as well.”
She encouraged the project team to cooperate with relevant partners to build a project that ensures the sustainable livelihoods of the people in selected areas while managing natural resources efficiently.
The ministry’s community department deputy director Seng Soth said at the meeting that the community fair idea began with the project team observing and gathering information from the community, compiling its potential needs, providing it with professional training and encouraging it to create achievements and jobs and offer products for sale at the annual exhibitions.
Environmental activist and manager of the Cambodian Youth Network’s research and advocacy programme Sar Mory told The Post on Thursday that the community livelihood improvement project is important for members of the forest communities or members of the protected forest communities to directly help them live better lives and stop logging.
He said very few people that live in the actual forest areas log for business, but those who do so are mostly from outside villages or far-away provinces. This community livelihood improvement project is only helping with a small part, but it cannot eliminate logging completely.
“This measure is good as it contributes to improving living standards, but I don’t think it’s efficient in preventing logging. As long as law enforcement is still loose and not strictly practised and measures are not taken against merchants that buy the wood, the export of wood to other countries will continue,” Mory said.
He said if the government does not block the export of wood to other countries, wood merchants and all illegal timber dealers will still operate and forest crimes in Cambodia will not decrease despite having the community livelihood improvement project.