The Ministry of Environment released an end of year video celebrating its achievements in environmental conservation since 1998 to mark 20 years of peace in Cambodia.

In the video, the ministry said they had served to protect and preserve natural resources for environmental protection and sustainable development since its establishment 25 years ago in 1993.

The ministry said it had introduced a number of environmental procedures, rules and guidelines to protect, promote and manage environmental issues, and cited major laws such as the 1996 Law on Environmental and Natural Resource Management and the 2008 Law on Natural Protected Areas.

The ministry also highlighted its creation of environmental moral codes addressing biodiversity preservation, disaster protection, natural resource management, promotion of historical resorts, protection of public health and environmental responsibility in line with international standards.

The ministry cited its efforts to establish national strategies on waste management for the 2017-2030 period and said it had trained waste management officers and allocated parts of its budget to environmental sanitation services at 26 locations nationwide.

Plastic bags were a major environmental issue the ministry said had grown over the course of this 20-year time frame. It outlined its desire to establish partnerships with the private sector regarding the use and importing of plastic bags – a problem increasingly blighting the Kingdom.

The ministry cited statistics showing that Phnom Penh alone used more than 10 million plastic bags every day.

“To reduce plastic pollution and the supply of plastic bags to customers at commercial shopping centres and supermarkets, we introduced regulations in April last year stating that bags must come with a charge,” the ministry said.

With respect to natural resource management and biodiversity conservation, the ministry said it had increased the number of protected areas in Cambodia from 23 to 54 over the past 20 years, with protected areas introduced in Eysan, Oddar and the Cardamom Mountains.

Protected areas now cover more than 7.5ha, equal to 41 per cent of Cambodia’s forested areas.

Ministry spokesman Neth Pheaktra told The Post on Tuesday that the past 20 years have seen great strides in environmental protection in the Kingdom.

“Over the past 20 years, the Ministry of Environment has significantly contributed to natural resource protection and sustainable development in Cambodia."

“We have increased park rangers from 800 to 1,221 to help conserve and protect areas. We’ve also created national environmental strategies to address climate change and improve environmental impact assessments,” he said.

Wildlife Conservation Society country director Ken Serey Rotha said the ministry had accomplished many tasks in environmental preservation in Cambodia and still had some way to go.

“The ministry has completed many initiatives in the areas of natural resource preservation and biodiversity protection."

“But problems persist in the areas of human resources, financial resources, economic development pressures, as well as procedures for solving land disputes,” he said.