The Ministry of Environment on Tuesday slammed a report by a local organisation which claimed the Prey Lang forest has lost 40,000ha in the last 18 years.
Ministry of Environment spokesman Neth Pheaktra called the report by the Prey Lang Community Network (PLCN) “politically motivated” and “untrue”.
Covering 431,683ha, the Prey Lang Wildlife Sanctuary spans four provinces – Kratie, Stung Treng, Kampong Thom and Preah Vihear. It was designated a Wildlife Sanctuary in 2016 and is a significant watershed that feeds the Mekong River and the Tonle Sap Lake.
In a report compiled with the help of the University of Copenhagen, PLCN said that, between 2001 and 2018, 41,758ha were lost to deforestation. This equates to nearly 10 per cent of the Prey Lang forest.
“Forest loss for the Prey Lang Wildlife Sanctuary was 4,536ha in 2018. This is equivalent to an average of 13ha of forest destroyed every day or 18 football fields,” the report said.
The report used data collected by forest rangers as well as satellite pictures.
Pheaktra rejected the report on the basis that the PLCN is not a registered organisation.
“The report was prepared by an organisation that is not even legally registered. PLCN has not registered with the Ministry of Interior,” he said, adding that the report was released in line with a “political agenda”.
“The only objective of the report is to help the organisation raise funds so that it can stay afloat and pay salaries,” he said.
PLCN’s report says that in the last few months, the government has strengthened efforts to stop illegal logging and other forest crimes.
It notes that government officials have recently been arrested and charged with corruption in logging-related cases. Despite this progress, PLCN said more needs to be done to protect the forest.
Srey Thy, a member of PLCN in Preah Vihear, told The Post that the organisation was established 20 years ago but never registered with the Ministry of Interior. Despite this, the organisation regularly works with the government to protect the forest, he said.