P RINCE Norodom Ranariddh inaugurated the country's first National Park at Ream
on Mar 21. Preah Sihanouk National Park will cover 21,000 hectares fronting on
to the coast, and includes two islands and mountain ranges.
will protect important marine species such as dolphin and whale, as well as
coral reef. Indigenous species of animals will come under its protection,
including tigers, barking deer, fishing cats, mouse deer, turtles, crocodile,
pangolins, monkeys and a variety of snakes and birds. The park will contribute
to national and local economies, and aims to integrate bio diversity
conservation interests with human land use.
More than 3 million hectares
of designated area in the countryside are to be protected by Royal Decree passed
on Nov. 1,1993. There will be seven national parks, ten wildlife sanctuaries,
three protected landscapes and three multiple-use areas.
Ranariddh, greeted by a large crowd, said: "We used to have national parks in
the Sangkum Reastr Niyum era. But this is the first time, since the formation of
the Royal Government, that the country has ever had a ministry for the
protection of the environment."
He stated that in addition to national
parks, the Royal Government is implementing bans on logging, shrimp farming and
gathering of coral.
"We are planning to ban the sale and gathering of
coral, to protect the coral reef. The pillage is terrible," he said. Agriculture
Minister Tao Seng Huor added that he did not know when the law would be passed,
saying: "It will be soon."
The prime minister was taken round an
exhibition at the park headquarters. In addition to models of the park, it
exhibited pieces of large coral, presumably broken off the reef in the way that
the government is trying to make illegal.
Ranarridh, referring to the
logging ban passed in January which prohibits the export of cut logs from the
end of April, confirmed: "The logging ban will stay in place. Big companies will
not be allowed to cut, but the problem is the anarchy of the system. We must
prevent the cutting of trees and have a reforestation plan. We have to preserve
the flora and fauna."
Tao Seng Hour said they would use the International
Timber Organization's recommendation as their master plan.
contracts to prawn farmers, which destroys mangrove forests, Ranariddh said that
the government will refuse new contracts and review those established before
He confirmed that national park protection would extend to the two
offshore islands. Koh Thmei and Koh Ses. "I do not see any obstacle. The Cabinet
will approve. With regards to the local villages there, there are not a lot of
people. We have to educate them and provide them with means. If necessary, we
will move them out of the national park in order to provide
David Ashwell, representative of the International Union for
the Conservation of Nature, which collaborated with the Ministry of Environment
in preparing the park concept, said: "This is a national park of international
standards. The benefits will contribute to the overall development of the
Sihanoukville region. It will attract visitors."
The Ministry has
received $ 10,000 from Ariston, the Malaysian company which will develop Naga
Island. Ariston plans to develop an Eco-tourism center. Enterprise Oil paid for
the newly built visiters' centre, and a calendar. Barry Rogers said they hope to
sponsor the next national park in Kirirom.
He said: "We are aware of the
sensitivity of the coastline, and the destruction of mangrove forests caused by
shrimp farming and the use of chemicals."