The government has established new protected landscape areas in four provinces – Preah Vihear, Ratanakkiri, Banteay Meanchey and Kampong Thom. The new areas total more than 4,000ha.

Minister of Environment Say Samal announced the formation of the new conservation zones via social media on August 13, along with four separate sub-decrees.

“The establishment of the protected landscapes aims to ensure the preservation and protection of natural beauty, the ecosystem, natural environment, wildlife and plants, in order to provide sustainable natural products and services,” explained a government sub-decree.

In Preah Vihear, the Prasat Bakan protected landscape in Sangkum Thmei district is 2,124ha, while Ratanakkiri’s Boeung Lumkot protected landscape in Lumphat district will be 110ha. Banteay Meanchey sees the creation of the Roneam Daun Sam protected landscape in Malai district, covering 1,423ha, while Kampong Thom gains the Sambor Prei Kuk protected landscape in Prasat Sambor district at 438ha.

Samal shared the government’s intention of maintaining the stability of the natural environment, while promoting the participation of local communities and the public in managing, protecting and conserving biodiversity and natural resources.

In addition to the new protected areas, the government has also combined some landscapes with Protected Biodiversity Corridors.

The Ang Trapeang Thmor protected landscape now spans 24,212ha of Banteay Meanchey and Oddar Meanchey provinces, following the integration of the 11,562ha Oddar Biodiversity Conservation Corridor.

Sun Pov, a representative of the Prey Preah Roka Forest Community Network in Preah Vihear province, said on August 13 that he supported the establishment of new protected areas, as well as the modification of others, as they make a lasting contribution to protecting the Kingdom’s forests and biodiversity.

In addition to the creation of protected landscapes, he believed the government should allow greater participation from the public.

“As a supporter of natural resource protection, I want the field to be more open to public involvement,” he added.

Song Chan Socheat, director of the Preah Vihear provincial environment department, noted that his department was open to the participation of community groups and civil society organisations, provided they complied with the appropriate legal procedures.

He advised any community networks that have not yet been recognised by law to apply for registration at the environment ministry.