Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Huge swathes of land returned to state by evicted encroachers

Huge swathes of land returned to state by evicted encroachers

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Wide-angle view of flooded forest landscape illegally cleared near the Tonle Sap Lake in Kampong Thom province in November. FACEBOOK

Huge swathes of land returned to state by evicted encroachers

Kampong Thom provincial authorities have determined that over 10,000ha of flooded forestland located in three different areas near the province’s Tonle Sap Lake shoreline have been illegally encroached upon, with more than 200 families having already returned in excess of 2,000ha of misappropriated land back over to the state.

Provincial governor Nguon Rattanak told The Post on December 9 that the roughly 200 families were made to sign contracts promising to cease and desist all encroachment activities including the clearing of land to claim private ownership.

He said the authorities were working on the reclamation of over 3,500ha of flooded forest in another area that has already resulted in 40 cases of offenders being sent to court.

“We have yet to finish the measurements because in certain places we can’t do them yet as the water hasn’t receded and we can’t see the boundary posts. But we do know that more than 10,000ha of land in these three areas has been encroached upon,” he said

Rattanak said no perpetrators have been arrested or detained as yet because most of the guilty parties had fled after Prime Minister Hun Sen ordered a massive crackdown operation on those engaged in encroachment around the lake.

Since investigations began in late November, authorities found that nearly 30,000ha of state land consisting of flooded forests around the lake spanning six provinces have been cleared by illegal squatters for personal benefit, resulting in the destruction of vital spawning grounds for the lake’s fish population.

The Fisheries Administrations in the provinces are now preparing tens of thousands of tree saplings to plant on the reclaimed land and are calling on volunteers to help with the huge reforestation effort.

In Kampong Chhnang province, authorities led a working group to spread the word and warn the public against encroachment on the land near the lake.

“As for farmers who have sown rice on land they leased from crooked people previously, the provincial authorities will allow them to gather their final harvest in the next few months, but then they must go and anyone who tries it again will face legal action,” said deputy governor San Yo.

The provincial hall said that from November 29 through December 7, nearly 300 families in three districts – Kampong Leng, Cholkiri and Baribor – had returned nearly 3,000ha of flooded forest land back to the state.

Minister of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction Chea Sophara told The Post on December 9 that the inter-ministerial working group will inspect the areas of encroachment in all six provinces, starting with Kampong Chhnang and ending with Siem Reap.

He said the work of reclaiming the flood forests was proceeding with good momentum and much had already been achieved towards the goal of protecting and rehabilitating these forests in a short period of time.


  • Joy as Koh Ker Temple registered by UNESCO

    Cambodia's Koh Ker Temple archaeological site has been officially added to UNESCO’s World Heritage List, during the 45th session of the World Heritage Committee held in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on September 17. The ancient temple, also known as Lingapura or Chok Gargyar, is located in

  • Famed US collector family return artefacts to Cambodia

    In the latest repatriation of ancient artefacts from the US, a total of 33 pieces of Khmer cultural heritage will soon return home, according to the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts. In a September 12 press statement, it said the US Attorney’s Office for the

  • Tina rebuffs ‘false claims’ over falling paddy price

    Agriculture minister Dith Tina has shed light on the trade of paddy rice in Battambang – Cambodia’s leading rice-producing province – in a bid to curb what he dubs a “social media fact distortion campaign” to destabilise the market. While acknowledging that the prices of paddy

  • Cambodia set to celebrate Koh Ker UNESCO listing

    To celebrate the inscription of the Koh Ker archaeological site on UNESCO’s World Heritage List, the Ministry of Cults and Religion has appealed to pagodas and places of worship to celebrate the achievement by ringing bells, shaking rattles and banging gongs on September 20. Venerable

  • Kampot curfew imposed to curb ‘gang’ violence

    Kampot provincial police have announced measures to contain a recent spike in antisocial behaviour by “unruly’ youth. Officials say the province has been plagued by recent violence among so-called “gang members”, who often fight with weapons such as knives and machetes. Several social observers have

  • PM outlines plans to discuss trade, policy during US visit

    Prime Minister Hun Manet is set to meet with senior US officials and business leaders during his upcoming visit to the US for the UN General Assembly (UNGA), scheduled for September 20. While addressing nearly 20,000 workers in Kampong Speu province, Manet said he aims to affirm