The Ministry of Environment will set up a joint headquarters in the Prey Lang Wildlife Sanctuary for rangers to monitor and prevent natural resource crimes and encroachment. It will encompass areas in Kampong Thom, Kratie, and Stung Treng provinces.

Ministry secretary of state and spokesman Neth Pheaktra said on Sunday that the headquarters would also oversee the transportation of forest products within Prey Lang.

In addition, it will prevent people from harming Prey Lang wildlife habitats and prevent any forest harvesting in the sanctuary.

Pheaktra said the establishment of the headquarters was a natural resource mechanism that could accommodate almost 100 rangers.

The ministry also discussed building a ranger office with The USAID Greening Prey Lang Project.

The project is a collaborative effort between the ministry and the US Agency for International Development to protect and promote sustainable livelihoods of communities living in the four provinces containing the Prey Lang area.

“These offices will serve as residences for rangers and help them crack down on natural crime,” Pheaktra said.

Another ministry secretary of state Sao Sopheap, led a ministerial working group to inspect the Prey Lang area in Kampong Thom and Preah Vihear provinces to find a suitable location for building the joint office on May 7.

The Ministry of Information quoted Sopheap as saying that the office would be used as a place to gather technical resources, law enforcement, and prevention forces.

Preah Vihear provincial environment department director Song Chansocheat, said on Sunday that he had not heard of any plans to set up an office in the Prey Lang Wildlife Sanctuary because the top management had not yet informed the province.

But Pheaktra said it was the goal of the environment ministry, rangers and communities of the protected areas to preserve and conserve the natural resources of the Prey Lang area for generations to come.

He said despite all-day blockades and efforts by rangers and members of the protected area communities, small-scale natural resource offences such as logging, encroachment and hunting continue to exist.

“There are various factors contributing to these offences, including locals who have typically made a living on forest products and illegal traders. The number of rangers we have is also limited.

“But we remain highly committed to aggressively preventing and cracking down on crimes that have occurred,” Pheaktra said.

An environment ministry report said the Prey Lang Wildlife Sanctuary covers more than 431,683ha in Kampong Thom, Preah Vihear, Kratie and Stung Treng provinces.