Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - More rangers needed to protect forests: minister

More rangers needed to protect forests: minister

Environment Minister Say Sam Al speaks on the year-end report on his ministry yesterday in Phnom Penh.
Environment Minister Say Sam Al speaks on the year-end report on his ministry yesterday in Phnom Penh. Facebook

More rangers needed to protect forests: minister

More rangers are needed to patrol the Kingdom’s protected areas, Ministry of Environment officials said yesterday during the release of a preliminary annual report, which also detailed total seizures from crackdown operations from January through November.

This year some 300 rangers were added to the ministry’s force, bringing the total to 1,260 rangers, according to the report, a far cry from what is needed to patrol the roughly 7 million hectares of land.

“The land to be protected is very large, but there are only about 1,000 park rangers,” Sam Al said, noting that three to four rangers should be assigned for every 100 hectares of protected area.

Currently, that ratio is closer to one ranger for about 5,500 hectares.

Nonetheless, Sam Al said that ministry rangers are more incentivised to actually provide protection, as they are now armed, no longer work on temporary contracts and are provided with commensurate medical and material benefits.

“So that they are happy and want to protect,” he said.

Sam Al said that the ministry would continue to patrol with other authorities and community members to help offset the shortage.

Ministry spokesman Sao Sopheap could not say how many rangers would be recruited in the immediate future, but repeated the need for more.

“We will ask the government to add more,” he said

Environmental activist Seng Sokheng, director of the NGO Peace-Building Network, said that beyond having an adequate number of rangers, officials need a more proactive mindset to crack down on forestry crimes.

“A large amount of rangers does not effectively stop forestry crimes, but determination [does],” he said, adding that the high prevalence of forestry crime in protected areas, especially in the past few months, is evidence of the need for change.

The ministry’s report detailed that over the first three-quarters of 2017, some 195.14 cubic metres of timber – a quarter of which was luxury timber – was seized.

Patrolling officers seized 445 chainsaws, 99 saws, 174 charcoal kilns and 3,696 wildlife traps, according to the report, which noted that 853 individuals signed “contracts” promising to not commit environmental crimes, though no arrest statistics or prosecutions were listed.

This tally does not count seizures by the Forestry Administration and other patrolling bodies.

MOST VIEWED

  • Hun Sen: Full country reopening to be decided in two weeks

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has announced that if the Covid-19 situation remains stable for 15 consecutive days from the end of the October 5-7 Pchum Ben public holiday, Cambodia will reopen fully, albeit in the context of Covid-19 whereby people have to adjust their lives to

  • Cambodia sets new Covid-19 quarantine rules

    The government has modified Covid-19 quarantine requirements, shortening the duration for, among others, Cambodian officials, foreign diplomats and delegations, investors and inbound travellers in general. According to an official notice signed by Minister of Health Mam Bun Heng late on October 16, quarantine length for Cambodian

  • Will Evergrande change the way Chinese developers do business in Cambodia?

    China’s property sector policy has exposed the grim financial condition of real estate developers including those operating in Cambodia, which raises questions over the viability of their projects and business going forward The dark blue netting draping over one of Yuetai Group Co Ltd’

  • Cambodia unveils new quarantine regulations

    The government has modified Covid-19 quarantine requirements, shortening the duration for, among others, Cambodian officials, foreign diplomats and delegations, investors and inbound travellers in general. According to an official notice signed by Minister of Health Mam Bun Heng late on October 16, quarantine length for Cambodian

  • Phnom Penh governor: Show Covid-19 vaccination cards, or else

    Phnom Penh municipal governor Khuong Sreng late on October 5 issued a directive requiring all people aged 18 and over and the parents of children aged 6-17 to produce Covid-19 vaccination cards when entering schools, markets, malls, marts, eateries and other business establishments that have been permitted

  • Cambodia seeks probe into 'false reports' on Hun Sen's alleged Cypriot passport

    Minister of Justice Koeut Rith on September 6 wrote a letter to his Cypriot counterpart Stephie Dracos requesting cooperation in investigating and providing the truth in relation to the "exaggerative and false allegations" that Prime Minister Hun Sen holds a Cypriot passport. In his letter, the