Cambodia is “ambitiously committed” to sustainable forest development and reducing deforestation, a sernior Ministry of Environment official said on World Forestry Day, as he revealed the government’s plans to launch a forest monitoring system that hopes to cut greenhouse gas emissions from logging in half by 2030.

Neth Pheaktra, ministry secretary of state and spokesman, told The Post that on this year’s World Forestry Day on March 21 – observed under the theme “Forests and sustainable production and consumption” – Cambodia committed to launching a forest monitoring system comprising national and environmental and social safety information systems.

The launch is aimed at implementing the REDD+ project to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation and degradation to half by 2030 in Forestry and Other Land Use (FOLU), in line with the Cambodian REDD+ National Strategy.

“The Cambodian government and partners have been looking for new markets to sell carbon credits that Cambodia has, to increase and strengthen the protection and conservation of natural resources,” Pheaktra said. “It is a source of pride for Cambodia to successfully sell carbon credits in the global voluntary market.”

According to the ministry, Cambodia currently has a conservation area of 7.3 million ha, or about 41 per cent of the country’s land area. Due to factors including increased local stability and the improved conservation of protected areas, Cambodia sold $11.6 million worth of carbon credits to major international companies from 2016 to 2020.

Pheaktra said that the revenue from selling carbon credits is used by the ministry to support conservation work and economic development for the community’s protected areas.

“We will continue our efforts to protect and conserve the natural resources that Cambodia still has,” he said, adding that the ministry will continue to increase efforts and public interest in rehabilitating degraded forests and participating in finding solutions. They hope to do this by generating more income for the communities living within and around protected areas.

The spokesman acknowledged that natural resource offences still occur within protected areas, but said that they were “only minor ones” mainly related to the livelihood of the people living in the region.

Heng Kimhong, research and advocacy program manager at the Cambodian Youth Network, said in a Facebook post on World Forestry Day that forests play an important role in reducing poverty and achieving countries’ sustainable development goals. “For many years, this universal celebration [of World Forestry Day] has been creating a worldwide awareness of the importance of forests,” he said.

Kimhong noted that a group of 400 civil society organisations, local and indigenous communities in Cambodia – who are often disproportionately impacted by deforestation and forest development –also celebrated this year’s World Forestry Day under the alternative theme, “We have the right to participate in protecting forests for life on Earth.”

He said that Cambodia has initiated a number of policies to encourage its people to participate in protecting forests and natural resources, naming in particular the Kingdom’s National Forest Programme in which Cambodians from all walks of life can active contribute to forest protection.