Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Ministry refutes NGO’s claims of deforestation in sanctuaries

Ministry refutes NGO’s claims of deforestation in sanctuaries

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Environment Ministry spokesman Neth Pheaktra speaks to media on forest protection in 2021. ENVIRONMENT MINISTRY

Ministry refutes NGO’s claims of deforestation in sanctuaries

A senior Ministry of Environment official has hit back at some local and international NGOs for their reports on deforestation, which they claim has affected the rights of indigenous people.

Last week, a report by Amnesty International (AI) entitled Cambodia: Illegal logging harming Indigenous peoples’ rights and cultures – new research was released.

In the report, AI said the Kuy indigenous community in Prey Lang and Prey Preah Roka santuaries had been affected. It suggested that the illegal logging of protected forests is undermining human rights and erasing the traditions of indigenous peoples in Cambodia.

The NGO noted that Cambodia had lost nearly 2.5 million hectares of forest cover between 2001 and 2020.

“Illegal logging in Cambodia poses an existential threat to the country’s remaining primary forests. In addition to the well-documented threats which this poses to biodiversity and climate, it also entails severe consequences for indigenous peoples’ cultures and human rights,” it said.

AI’s head of crisis and environment Richard Pearshouse alleged in the report that “government officials who were supposed to be protecting these precious forests are instead profiting from their destruction by allowing the illegal logging trade to flourish”.

Ministry spokesman Neth Pheaktra said that what was in those reports were baseless allegations fabricated by unprofessional and politicised NGOs such as AI and its allies who were prejudiced against Cambodia. It had traditionally lied in its reporting, he said.

He said Cambodia, through the ministry, has made strong commitments to protect indigenous people’s rights by sharing the responsibility of natural conservation thought the establishment of the Protected Areas Communities, which were recognised by Cambodian Law.

He said that among 182 protected areas, 52 are indigenous people’s communities, including eight of the Kuy people. Those communities have full rights to patrol and get full cooperation from the ministry’s forest rangers and authorities.

According to Pheaktra, those communities have received a lot of benefits and support from the ministry to improve their livelihoods through local economic development.

“What Amnesty International alleged in their report does not reflect reality. The baseless accusations by Amnesty International are politically motivated and are manipulated to defend some crooks that pretend to care for the environment and the indigenous communities,” he said.

Around 46.86 per cent of Cambodia is covered by 8.5 million hectares of natural forest. The environment ministry is responsible for 7.3 million hectares of this forest, or 41 per cent of the Kingdom’s total land.

He emphasised that large-scale deforestation in protected areas are no longer occurring, although small-scale illegal logging persists. The authorities, he said, will continue to enforce the laws.

“Forests are better protected than ever. Cambodia has been successful in selling carbon credits in the international voluntary market using the motto ‘Keep the wood standing to sell carbon credits’. Wildlife is better protected and the living conditions of the people in the protected area communities are starting to improve, linked to eco-tourism and new career options,” he said.

Cambodia is committed to the implementation of the National Forest Monitoring System and Social and Environmental Safeguards Information System for REDD+ implementation, and to its target of halving the deforestation rate by 2030, in line with Cambodia’s REDD+ strategy, he added.

MOST VIEWED

  • Chinese group tours return to Cambodia starting Feb 6

    Cambodia is among 20 countries selected by Beijing for a pilot programme allowing travel agencies to provide international group tours as well as flight and hotel packages to Chinese citizens, following a three-year ban. As the days tick down until the programme kicks off on February 6,

  • Capital-Poipet express rail project making headway

    The preliminary results of a feasibility study to upgrade the Phnom Penh-Poipet railway into Cambodia’s first express railway indicate that the project would cost more than $4 billion and would take around four years to complete. The study was carried out by China Road and

  • Thai boxers to join SEA Games’ Kun Khmer event

    The Cambodian SEA Games Organising Committee (CAMSOC) – together with the Kun Khmer International Federation (KKIF) and Khmer Boxing Federation – have achieved a “great success” by including Kun Khmer in the upcoming biennial multi-sports event on its home soil for the first time, said a senior

  • Bullets to bracelets: Siem Reap man makes waste from war wearable

    Jewellery is often made from valuable gemstones like emeralds or diamonds and precious metals like gold or silver, or valueless things like animal horns. But a man in Siem Reap has approached the manufacture of delicate pieces from a different angle. His unique form of

  • 61% of 2022 imports came from just 3 markets

    The three largest exporters to Cambodia – mainland China, Vietnam and Thailand – accounted for 60.94 per cent of the Kingdom’s total merchandise imports last year, at $18.245 billion, which was up 11.99 per cent over 2021, according to the General Department of Customs and Excise. Cambodia’s total imports

  • CPP sets out five primary strategic goals for 2023-28

    The Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) on January 29 concluded its two-day extraordinary congress, setting the party’s priority goals for 2023-2028. The ruling party’s congress was attended by more than 3,000 members from across the Kingdom, including the members of the permanent and central committees,