The 13th regional forum on natural resource protection and preservation was organised in Battambang town on May 13 to promote increased participation by sub-national level authorities and communities.

The provincial administration said the forum was presided over by Phay Bunchhoeun, secretary of state at the Ministry of Environment.

Provincial governor Sok Lou said the forum was held as part of the government’s policy of promoting participation from local communities, sub-national authorities and relevant stakeholders in the protection, management and preservation of natural resources to increase their benefits for local communities.

The forum also served as an occasion to share experience and explore means of creating jobs, which would in turn enhance the livelihoods of local communities.

Lou hoped that forestry and fisheries communities would actively participate in protecting and preserving natural resources and the ecosystem in the province.

The governor thanked the ministry for organising the forum in Battambang, which he said is rich in agricultural land and natural resources.

Bunchhoeun said natural resource and biodiversity protection and preservation cannot be considered a success if the livelihoods of the people are not improved.

To this end, his ministry is carries out its duties – in the management and protection of natural resources and biodiversity – to ensure a balance between the environment and food security, socio-economy and public health.

He said that creating jobs for the local communities not only helps to lift their income and contributes to the growth of the local economy, but also contributes to the protection of the environment, natural resource management, biodiversity preservation and sustainable development.

Kot Boran, director of the provincial environment department, said his department is pushing local communities living in protected areas in this province to add livestock to their farms. Raising animals would increase their incomes, he said.

He added that the people of Battambang have better living conditions than those in most other provinces, mostly because they have their own land for farming fruit and vegetables. Their livelihoods would be greatly improved if they were to diversify by introducing animals.

“We encourage them to add animals to their farms. Their livelihoods are already better than most other provinces because they own their own farms, but we believe we can help

them to grow their incomes even higher. We will provide extensive animal husbandry training and support,” said Boran.