Since 2017, the Kingdom’s park rangers have intervened in over 8,000 forestry and wildlife crimes a year, with more than 800 cases referred to courts.
According to the Ministry of Environment, since January of this year, officials interceded in 4,250 crimes, most of which were illegal logging or encroachment on state land.
Ministry spokesman Neth Pheaktra said at an August 30 press conference on the ministry’s five-year achievements, held at the Council of Ministers, that large-scale crimes no longer exist, although minor offences persist.
He said that every year since 2017, rangers – who are acting as judicial police officers – continue to crack down on crimes, reprimanding and educating offenders for minor offences and issue fines in more serious cases.
About 5,000 chainsaws and nearly 1,000 firearms were confiscated and about 50,000 snares were removed from protected areas. Exhibits including motorcycles and more than 1,000 tractors were confiscated along with thousands of cubic meters of illegal timber.
He noted that since January of this year, rangers had carried out 14,692 patrols.
During their operations, they confiscated 758 cubic metres of mixed sawn timber and 1,724 chainsaws, while also removing almost 30,000 animal snares. A total of 1,167 offenders were made to sign contracts promising not to repeat their offences while 258 were fined. He noted that of all the cases, 353 had been sent to court.
“The environment ministry and its partner organisations have been implementing measures to increase the efficiency of natural resource management and conservation,” he said.
Pheaktra said the Kingdom has enough resources to dedicate to conservation work, which has in turn generated money from its conservation through the sale of carbon credits in the REDD+ project to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the forestry sector.
REDD+ is a sustainable financing mechanism which supports forest-rich developing countries to access funds to protect forest resources and improve local livelihoods in their respective countries, while fighting against global climate change.
He said that since 2016, the ministry has rolled out three REDD+ projects, including Keo Seima, South Cardamom and Prey Lang. The three projects have so far generated around $11.6 million from the sale of carbon credits, with the proceeds allocated to forest conservation and protection.
The three projects cover an area of 1.27 million hectares. The ministry is preparing to launch a fourth REDD+ project, which will almost double the amount of land in the scheme.
“This is an important turning point for Cambodia … The Kingdom has now received revenue from its conservation. The view that only deforestation can earn income has been eliminated and we are now operating under the slogan ‘Keep the trees standing for the benefit of the economy and society’,” he said.
He said not only had Cambodia succeeded in selling carbon credits, it had raised its national prestige on the international stage in a way that not many countries could do. It had also well and truly disproven old allegations that it suffered from excessive forest crime, he added.