Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Forest watchdog warned against satellite imagery



Forest watchdog warned against satellite imagery

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Illegal logging in Prey Lang is a major conern for the PLCN community group. Hean Rangsey

Forest watchdog warned against satellite imagery

Ministry of Environment officials have warned it will take legal action against Prey Lang Community Network (PLCN) and several other organisations if they continue to collect deforestation data in the area.

The ministry’s warning comes 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.

But the ministry’s secretary of state and spokesman Neth Pheaktra told The Post on Wednesday that the activities of the PLCN are now against the law. He said the community network is being exploited for political purposes.

“Using satellite systems to search for data in an unjustified and unauthorised way can be illegal and the ministry may consider asking the authorities to take legal action against on relevant people.

“[These] activities by the PLCN and several other organisations are taking place under the label of environmentalists and lovers of natural resources. But it is embedded in dishonesty. They are not environmental activists but political activists.

“The ministry warns the organisations that have been working on the conservation of natural resources that they need to have an agreement with the Ministry of Environment under the law, otherwise we have no choice but to take legal action,” he said.

On April 17, the Prey Lang Community Network informed the ministry that when it is not possible to conduct forest patrols and collect data on forest crimes, biodiversity and climate change as before, it will use satellite imagery technology with the help of technical experts instead.

It said the University of Maryland, which is supported by Global Forest Watch’s technology, is comparing images taken by satellite in the Prey Lang Wildlife Sanctuary and others forests.

“While PLCN is banned from entering Prey Lang, illegal loggers can freely enter the forest to fell trees. We will use satellite imagery to keep an eye on them,” PLCN said.

Hoeun Sopheap, a PLCN member in Kampong Thom province, said the only purpose of the community network is to increase the forest cover in the Prey Lang area.

“The government and the ministry should thank the PLCN because the job of forest protection is the government’s work.

“When there are other parties that want to join, I think the government should thank them. There should not be warnings and rebukes of the groups that are helping them,” he said.

The PLCN was banned from patrolling in Prey Lang after the group released a report on February 3, claiming that from 2001 to 2018, more than 40,000ha of forest, or almost 10 per cent of the Prey Lang Wildlife Sanctuary, have been lost.

The PLCN said in the coming weeks it will publish satellite images, including a notification of deforestation by Global Forest Watch.

MOST VIEWED

  • ‘Kingdom one of safest to visit in Covid-19 era’

    The Ministry of Tourism on January 12 proclaimed Cambodia as one of the safest countries to visit in light of the Kingdom having been ranked number one in the world by the Senegalese Economic Prospective Bureau for its success in handling the Covid-19 pandemic. In rankings

  • Ministry mulls ASEAN+3 travel bubble

    The Ministry of Tourism plans to launch a travel bubble allowing transit between Cambodia and 12 other regional countries in a bid to resuscitate the tourism sector amid crushing impact of the ongoing spread of Covid-19, Ministry of Tourism spokesman Top Sopheak told The Post on

  • Kingdom accepts Chinese vaccine, PM first to get jab

    Prime Minister Hun Sen said China would offer Cambodia an immediate donation of one million doses of the Covid-19 vaccine produced by the Sinopharm company. In an audio message addressing the public on the night of January 15, he said Cambodia has accepted the offer and

  • Reeling in Cambodia’s real estate sector

    A new norm sets the scene but risks continue to play out in the background A cold wind sweeps through the streets of Boeung Trabek on an early January morning as buyers and traders engage in commerce under bright blue skies. From a distance, the

  • PM asks India for vaccine help

    Prime Minister Hun Sen is seeking assistance from India for the provision of Covid-19 vaccines as the country has produced its own vaccine which is scheduled to be rolled out to more than 300 million Indians this year. The request was made during his meeting with

  • One million Chinese Covid-19 jabs to start rolling in from February

    The government has confirmed that Covid-19 vaccines from China are set to begin arriving in Cambodia by February. This came as the Ministry of Health recorded two imported cases of Covid-19 on January 18. While calling on people to remain vigilant against the pandemic, ministry spokeswoman