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Tonle Sap Lake forest replanting underway

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Banteay Meanchey authorities plant trees on Tonle Sap wetlands in Mongkol Borei district on February 6. BANTEAY MEANCHEY ADMINISTRATION

Tonle Sap Lake forest replanting underway

More than 60,000ha of flooded forest land in Zone 3 in the six provinces around the Tonle Sap Lake has been reclaimed from nearly 15,000 families and returned to the state. Officials have since reforested the area with different kinds of trees, bamboos and palm trees.

Fisheries Administration deputy director Ung Try told The Post that as of February 21, working groups had reclaimed 62,750ha of flooded forest land from 14,919 families.

“We cannot say whether the planting of trees is complete yet, as we are still receiving daily reports from the provinces. When planting is complete we will hold a meeting to review progress,” he said.

On February 13, Banteay Meanchey provincial authorities announced that the province had finished replanting trees on 12,000ha of reclaimed land.

Try said the fisheries authority was cooperating with provincial authorities to reclaim the remaining flooded forest land and to replant it as early as possible.

Prime Minister Hun Sen recently ordered strict enforcement of illegal logging and land encroachment in areas around the lake. He called for the reclaimed areas to be replanted, saying that the loss of these crucial habitats is likely responsible for a dramatic fall in fish spawning rates.

Om Savath, executive director of the NGO Fisheries Action Coalition Team, was of the view that the amount of encroachment on the lake was even larger – as the government had reclaimed more than 60,000ha of flooded forest land.

“We appreciate that the government has spent a significant amount of money on the replanting. The land has been planted with trees and plants that are native to the area and will grow back in five to 10 years. If we can prevent any further encroachment, Zone 3 will be restored soon,” he said.

Savath urged the government to put systems in place that would protect the area. Simple mechanisms were ineffective at preventing the crime, and more robust legislation was needed, he said.

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