Officials from multiple ministries will join administrators from the Royal Academy of Cambodia (RAC) for a visit this week to the Techo Sen Russey Treb Park in Preah Vihear province in preparation for setting up a joint mechanism to combat poaching and other forestry crimes.
Government spokesman Phay Siphan told The Post that the park had been recognised internationally as an ASEAN-region natural area remarkable for its resources and biodiversity.
The RAC was given permission to manage the park by the government, and officials from the ministries of Environment; Interior; and Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries would meet with RAC leaders to address challenges encountered with park management.
Siphan said there have been 31 families living in the park area who have engaged in harvesting timber for sale. The RAC had complained about these activities but had no legal authority to intervene.
He added that because the park bears the name of Prime Minister Hun Sen, it should be protected and its big trees and wild animals preserved.
“We invited the environment ministry and the Forestry Administration to consider how to solve the problems together. We’ll visit there and discuss it at the local and provincial levels to create measures to protect the Techo Sen Russey Treb Park,” Siphan said.
Environment ministry spokesman Neth Pheaktra said the park borders the Chheb Wildlife Sanctuary which is under the ministry’s management. The ministry would assist with law enforcement in the area as well as relocating the families who are living there illegally.
“This national park was established with respect for its history, natural resources and biodiversity, including many species of animals, some of which are endangered. We must cooperate to protect the area and stop the offences in it,” he said.
RAC president Sok Touch said he had sought to collect evidence from people transporting timber with home-made trucks but did not have legal authority to detain the violators.
He said local authorities had not taken any action when he brought the issue to their attention.
Touch said the RAC had already prepared some land elsewhere for the illegal residents where there was already a pagoda, school and running water. If the families are allowed to continue living where they have been, they will continue stealing timber from the park.
“Please help the 31 families out of the area because every night, they log from 1,000 to 2,000 pieces of thnong [Pterocarpus macrocarpus] timber,” he said.
The park was established on April 17, 2014 and covers 114.35sq km in Chheb district’s Chheb I and II communes.