Minister of Environment Say Sam Al has urged everyone to participate in the sustainable preservation and conservation of natural resources so the Kingdom could earn carbon credits which it could later sell in the voluntary carbon market.
Sam Al made the remarks on Tuesday at a meeting with communities in Mondulkiri province’s Keo Seima Wildlife Sanctuary, Sen Monorom commune, in O’Raing district.
They had just received Village Development Funds (VDFs) Phase II as part of the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) project.
The meeting was also joined by community members and rangers from Phnom Prich Wildlife Sanctuary.
Sam Al thanked the relevant parties, including the Wildlife Conservation Society, World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Cambodia and the communities for participating in protecting and conserving natural resources.
These efforts, he said, allowed the Kingdom to sell carbon credits and boost natural resource conservation and local economic development.
“With the efforts in managing and conserving natural protected areas, Cambodia has sold carbon credits from the Keo Seima Wildlife Sanctuary, Southern Cardamom Wildlife Sanctuary and Tatai Wildlife Sanctuary at the voluntary carbon market.
“Cambodia received a total of $11 million to support environmental protection initiatives and raise the living standards of the local communities,” he said.
The ministry said through the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, it had encouraged forest-rich countries to strive to protect forests to get funds via the voluntary carbon market and results-based payment.
Cambodia has the highest level of forest cover in Southeast Asia with some 50 per cent of the country covered.
The government has so far increased natural protected lands in the country under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Environment. These accounted for some 41 per cent of land in the country, which is equivalent to about 72 million hectares.
“The forest is vital to our water supply. It minimises the impact of natural disasters and contributes to the mitigation of the effects of climate change.
“Eco-tourism and the payment project for ecological services can also provide opportunities for economic development and also help support conservation work.
“By last year, some 168 natural protected communities had been formed within the conservation areas of the Ministry of Environment,” Sam Al said.
The ministry, said its secretary of state and spokesman Neth Pheaktra, will also launch an environmental camp programme and ordain trees in Prey Lang Wildlife Sanctuary from February 14-15.
The tree ordination ceremony will be attended by 50 people, including local authorities, communities and youths to rekindle their appreciation for nature and increase participation in its conservation.
“The Ministry of Environment would like to invite all development partners, associations, NGOs and local communities to participate in this programme so we could jointly protect and conserve natural resources, forests and wild animals for future generations,” he said.
WWF country director Seng Teak said: “The communities can develop and implement plans for natural resource management in their localities.
“They can also sustainably harvest and process non-timber forest products, as well as initiate wildlife eco-tourism, which could involve community homestays or wildlife watching, to support their livelihoods.”
Vil Bunthea, the chief of Community Network for Natural Resources Conservation from the Eastern Mekong region, said the engagement of local villagers from community protected areas (CPAs) in livelihood enhancement helps improve productivity.
“CPA members also regularly conduct patrols, in cooperation with the ministry’s law enforcement team and local authorities in their respective area.
“They combat forest crimes and remove snares from the forests,” said Bunthea.