Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Mekong region under threat, report claims



Mekong region under threat, report claims

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Residents living around the Srepok Wildlife Sanctuary in Mondulkiri province patrol their forest. RECOFTC

Mekong region under threat, report claims

A recent report by the Regional Community Forestry Training Centre (RECOFTC) said villagers living around Srepok Wildlife Sanctuary had recently reported illegal loggers in the forest and they took action by seizing some of the perpetrators’ chainsaws.

The area is protected by the government and the villagers have exclusive rights to its rattan, bamboo and other resources in exchange for their forest patrols.

In the May 5 report, RECOFTC describes threats facing the Mekong region and its people.

According to the report, the main threats are caused by illegal logging, agriculture and infrastructure development.

It said empowering community members to safeguard their interests in protected areas could become the norm.

The Ministry of Agriculture recently transferred the administration of large areas of forest to the Ministry of Environment, which administers community protected areas.

Community members patrolling their plots of protected land may work sometimes, but for some, it’s a risky proposition.

“While community protected areas have empowered people living near forests, some communities struggle to secure their rights when competing interests arrive intent on using forest land for mining or agriculture,” the report said.

It added that the situation can become dangerous for some, and not everyone can effectively file grievances when things go wrong.

The report said: “When large companies are involved, the imbalance of power can be stark.

“And in Cambodia and other Mekong countries, it is not easy for communities to complain because grievance mechanisms are absent, unclear or ineffective. Meanwhile, land and forest defenders often face threats and violence.”

Initiatives such as Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD+), an organisation which focuses on stopping deforestation and enhancing forest carbon stocks, and Forest Law Enforcement Governance Trade (FLEGT), an EU-based plan to reduce illegal logging, are establishing opportunities to better people’s access to grievance mechanisms, said the report.

An RECOFTC media advisory dated May 13 said 85 million people depend on Mekong forests to survive, and one third of them are indigenous to the area.

The advisory said the Mekong region shelters vast biodiversity and is essential to fighting the climate crisis.

The forests also help lower this risk of pandemics like Covid-19 and other zoonotic diseases, according to the advisory.

Ministry of Environment secretary of state and spokesman Neth Pheaktra could not be reached for comment on Sunday.

However, he was quoted on the ministry’s Facebook page early this month as saying that in April, 13 ringleaders and perpetrators involved in encroaching on several hectares of forest land in Biodiversity Conservation Corridors and wildlife sanctuaries in Phnom Prich, Srepok, and Keo Seima in Mondulkiri province were charged and detained by the provincial court.

Pheaktra said: “No one has the right to occupy, buy or sell land in protected areas. The Ministry of Environment asks citizens who are not well versed in the law to not allow perpetrators to deceive you and to immediately stop illegal activities such as clearing, burning, encroaching on forest land, building huts, and growing crops in protected areas.”

Srepok Wildlife Sanctuary was created by a sub-decree in 2016 and covers 372,971ha. The goal for the designation was to ensure the safety of wildlife, provide ecological care, produce products and natural services for sustainable use, and promote community involvement in the area.

MOST VIEWED

  • 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

  • Courts’ decisions now published as reference source

    The Ministry of Justice has published 44 verdicts from civil litigation cases which can be used as models for court precedents and for study by the public and those who work in pertinent fields. Publication of the verdicts on December 31 came as the result of joint

  • ‘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

  • Quarantine site in north Phnom Penh inaugurated

    A four-building quarantine centre in Phnom Penh’s Prek Pnov district was formally inaugurated on January 6. The centre can house up to 500 people, according to Phnom Penh municipal governor Khuong Sreng. At the inauguration ceremony, Sreng said the municipal hall had cooperated with the Ministry

  • China firm to develop Mondulkiri airport

    Tourism to the Kingdom’s northeast corridor could experience a remarkable metamorphosis after the government decided in principle of a Chinese company to study and develop a proposal to build a regional-level airport in Mondulkiri province, according to industry insiders. The Council of Ministers said

  • More than 5K workers rush from Thailand amid outbreak

    Following the recent outbreak of Covid-19 in Thailand’s Samut Sakhon province, Cambodian migrants working in Thailand were gripped by worry over the situation and many rushed to return to their homeland. Over the past 10 days, more than 5,000 migrant workers have returned from Thailand through