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US ambassador talks forest protection

US ambassador talks forest protection

US ambassador to Cambodia Patrick Murphy and the Greening Prey Lang project discussed conservation technology being used in Cambodia to preserve natural resources.

The USAID-funded Greening Prey Lang is a project that promotes resilient, low-emissions development and inclusive and sustainable management of the Prey Lang forest.

In a video chat show posted on the US Embassy’s Facebook page on Wednesday, Murphy said Cambodia has protected 40 per cent of its territory and that puts the country in a unique position.

He said the challenge is how to protect the integrity of that 40 per cent of the area from encroachment, illegal logging, and trafficking in wildlife.

“The answer is technology. Our partnerships are bringing the tools of modern technology to do that kind of protection. We don’t do it alone. There are many US government agencies involved, USAID, the US Forest Service and even NASA.

“There’s also civil society. We’ve got great partnerships with really well renowned organisations. We’re using technology in their work as well. There’s the private sector,” Murphy said..

He said interestingly enough, the late co-founder of Microsoft, Paul Allen, created a [philanthropic foundation] called Vulcan. “That technology is being applied right here in Cambodia to collect data and get it out where it is needed in the field,” he said.

Murphy said the second line of effort is to use the very technology that underscores our ongoing partnerships and programmes – remote sensing. Many, many Cambodians are connected with smartphones and the Internet.

“The information can be shared through distancing and then applied with very safe measures. So we need to use technology for the surveillance of public health and also protecting our environment,” he said.

Ministry of Environment spokesman Neth Pheaktra told The Post on Wednesday that in conserving the Prey Lang Wildlife Sanctuary, the ministry is cooperating with the Greening Prey Lang project funded by the USAID to equip more than 100 Prey Lang rangers with modern technology in Kampong Thom, Preah Vihear, Stung Treng, and Kratie provinces.

“It is a cooperation to equip them with modern technological tools to collect data related to Prey Lang including natural resource crimes in a bid to push forward, manage and preserve the protected areas with high effectiveness.

“It is necessary to have development partners and various projects in a goal to strengthen the capacity of rangers, enhance management of protected areas, develop local communities, and create eco-tourism areas,” he said.

Pheaktra said that doing so serves to generate new income for the people and boost the local economy. It cuts off their dependence on natural resources and hunting wildlife. This, he said, makes natural resource preservation sustainable.

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