The Ministry of Environment presented achievements from the past year, following implementation of its “Sustainable Landscape and Eco-tourism Project”, with participation of the World Bank and UN Development Programme (UNDP) representatives in Cambodia.

Videos posted online from December 3 to 8 of the project working group’s sessions showed officials touting progress toward eco-preservation and economic sustainability.

Launched last year, the project seeks to improve management of protected natural areas through registration, demarcation, zoning and planning for state lands.

The ministry said the project also aims to ameliorate livelihoods of communities living in protected areas by creating new business options for them through outreach and investments, with increased private sector cooperation in the protection and conservation of natural resources.

Khieu Borin, director-general of the ministry’s General Directorate of Local Communities, told The Post on December 9 that the project’s achievements over the past year include the establishment of border posts and the identification of 15 prospective eco-tourism destinations in seven provinces.

The sites are located in the Cardamom Mountains and around the Tonle Sap lake in Kampong Speu, Koh Kong, Pursat, Battambang, Kampong Chhnang, Kampong Thom and Siem Reap provinces.

According to the most recent tourism statistics, nearly two million people visited these natural areas in the previous year.

Borin emphasised the importance of achieving better living conditions for communities in protected natural areas, noting that ensuring the preservation of natural landscapes is akin to ensuring the economic sustainability of the community.

Local economies are being assisted in transitioning away from destructive practices like deforestation to industries that do not deplete natural resources and biodiversity.

“All the communities that live near eco-tourism sites have been dependent on local resources, such as hunting and timber harvesting. The project has transformed them with new businesses such as raising chickens, growing vegetables and providing local tourism services,” Borin said.