Kampong Thom provincial governor Nguon Rattanak has instructed the Forestry Administration (FA) cantonment to prepare for an increase in patrols in Prey Ang Ten Wildlife Sanctuary in order to more effectively prevent encroachment on state land.
Rattanak issued the order after leading a team of experts to inspect the situation in Prey Ang Ten – located in the Boeung Lvea and Kraya communes of Santuk and Sandan districts – on June 24, noting that much of the forestland in the area had been cleared illegally.
"The provincial FA cantonment must search for the perpetrators and file criminal cases against them to be sent to court for further action in accordance with legal procedures. They must also prepare the appropriate legal documents to initiate the confiscation of the land to return it to the state," he said.
Prey Ang Ten is a biodiversity conservation corridor under the management of the Ministry of Environment with a total area of 31,416ha.
Recently, the government announced the transfer of management and responsibility of the area to the FA under the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries in order to develop it as a REDD+ Project.
REDD+ is a UN framework for the management of forests intended to help reduce the impacts of climate change, primarily by preventing carbon emissions from deforestation and degradation of forests.
Rattanak urged all relevant departments and units to work together to crack down on natural resource offences in the sanctuary by maintaining solidarity and effective cooperation.
"We shouldn't waste our time [pointing the finger] at each other. That only leads to each unit or institution failing to carry out the roles and responsibilities assigned to them," he said. "Instead, we must work together to implement the law effectively and inclusively. Let's make sure that small cuts don't become big wounds that can get infected and lead to much worse consequences in the future."
Rattanak warned all civil servants and officials who may be involved in any cases of forest land encroachment or illegitimate claims to ownership – either personally or through family members – to immediately back off or face the law without exception.
Mom Sophal, head of the FA cantonment in Kampong Thma commune, told The Post that they had made plans to patrol in Prey Ang Ten but were requesting support from the military.
“At this time, we are really just waiting for the military forces to agree to participate in the operation,” he said.
He said that for now the two environment offices in the biodiversity corridors of Prey Ang Ten continued operations with rangers patrolling the forests until the official day of transfer of the duties and management to the provincial FA cantonment, which may happen by the end of next week.