The Ministry of Environment has created a working group to research and present a proposal to minister Say Sam Al on strategies, plans, projects and best practices to help improve the living standards of people in protected areas.
Ministry secretary of state Mom Thany organised a meeting with the group on Wednesday to discuss ideas that are consistent with the policies and legal standards of the ministry and ensure sustainability.
She said it could include creating opportunities for people in protected areas to raise animals, and receive vocational training and support with materials and resources.
“I encourage the working group to pay attention to research and design comprehensive long-term and short-term strategies to develop local community living conditions sustainably,” Thany said.
Brong Norch, the head of the forestry protection community in the Phnom Prich Wildlife Sanctuary in Mondulkiri province, said officials from the ministry and NGOs used to provide education on vegetable growing, and know-how on raising chickens, ducks, cattle, pigs.
He said besides those skills, NGOs also provided capital and materials so the people could start growing vegetables and raise animals. But he said such support was not enough. He called for the government and development partners to increase the funds.
“Besides lacking capital, we also lack techniques and know-how because community people are illiterate and hard to train. Our community wants to have agricultural experts to help improve our abilities.
“We want to raise animals. We don’t want to cut the forest. But we don’t have other choices but to cut the forest or migrate abroad,” Norch said.
Heng Sros, an activist who investigates forest crimes in northern Cambodia said on Thursday that he supports the idea of helping people in protected nature areas because most of them are poor. If they are jobless they will cut the trees and commit other natural resources crimes, he said.
Sros said the forest community is easily duped by criminals to cut forest timber and deliver the wood. “Community people living in protected areas are not the ones who destroy the forest. But they are hired or persuaded to go into the forest and cut the trees.
“They do so because they don’t have a job except to cut the trees. They have little choice,” Sros said.