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Sanctuaries now state land

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The Peam Krasop and Phnom Prich wildlife sanctuaries now sit on state-owned land. Environment Ministry

Sanctuaries now state land

The Ministries of Environment, and Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction have listed the Peam Krasop Wildlife Sanctuary in Koh Kong province and Phnom Prich Wildlife Sanctuary in Mondulkiri province as state land to eliminate land grabbing offences.

The operations have gained support from community members who expect forest crimes to decline with the move.

A notice by the Ministry of Environment seen by The Post on Sunday said it is listing two natural protected areas – Peam Krasop Wildlife and Phnom Prich Wildlife Sanctuaries as state land.

This is intended to comply with the law and relevant legal standard letters, especially the 2008 Law on Natural Protected Areas and the 2001 Land Law.

The notice said the procedure and the processes of listing the areas as state land was to locate and divide natural protected management areas including a core area, a conservation area, a multipurpose sustainable area and a community area for each natural protected area.

Certifying the two wildlife sanctuaries is aimed at minimising and eliminating the taking of state land.

The notice said the execution of the state land registration project began in 2018. So far, a working group has completed the process of listing the core areas and the two wildlife sanctuaries as state land.

Second, the Ministry of Land Management has issued 18 property certification cards to the Ministry of Environment.

Of the 18, 10 were for state land titles in the core area of the Peam Krasop Wildlife Sanctuary in Koh Kong that covers an area of 4,672,61ha. The other eight titles were for state land in the core area of the Phnom Prich wildlife sanctuary in Mondulkiri that covers an area of 4,551,926ha.

Ministry of Environment secretary of state and spokesman Neth Pheaktra said on Sunday that the activity was a historical result for Cambodia.

The government supported it and urged state land registration in natural protected areas for the first time. It also reflected the government’s care and commitment to protecting and conserving natural resources in Cambodia.

“In the days to come, our goal is to continue listing all naturally protected areas under the management of the Ministry of Environment as state land.

“We are preparing to list the Kirirom National Park and we are studying the Prey Lang forest with development partners to list it also. We will study a series of other areas too,” he said.

Koh Kong province’s Peam Krasop community leader Siek Sabon supported registering the Peam Krasop as state land because, he said, the area was being threatened by private ownership. The area has been cleared several times, but community members have stepped in to stop the offences in time.

“More than 300 families rely on the Peam Krasop area for their livelihoods, including fishing for squid and shrimp, catching crabs for sale on the beach. We hope that when this land is listed there will be no grabbers and we will still have the opportunity to rely on the area for our livelihood,” he said.

Bunong indigenous community head Brong Norch who has patrolled the Phnom Prich wildlife sanctuary in Mondulkiri said on Sunday that he supported listing the Phnom Prich area. But he said that he doesn’t believe the authorities yet on whether it will eliminate forest crimes.

“If officials who are responsible for the area don’t crack down on the crime, it will not decline,” he said.

“Most forest crimes have occurred because officials sit around collecting money from the crime. Just the other day, we patrolled the area and encountered a crime. The offender claimed that he already paid 100,000 riel to officials. So, I have no faith in the officials,” he said.

Cambodia has 57 natural protected areas and three biodiversity corridor conservation areas that cover an area of more than 7.2 million hectares.

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