The government has issued a sub-decree to list Yak Om Yak Kara Lake and 132.05ha surrounding it in Ratanakkiri province’s Lumphat district as a protected landscape area under the Ministry of Environment.

The decree, issued last week, said the move is aimed at maintaining and protecting natural resources, ecosystems, wildlife, and the local community’s culture and customs.

It said the Ministry of Environment will manage and be responsible for creating mechanisms to control the area with cooperation from the relevant authorities, especially the Ratanakkiri provincial administration and armed forces from three units to ensure environmental protection.

With the creation of the area, local communities would benefit and their livelihoods would improve through the availability of jobs related to natural and cultural tourism, it said.

Kham Nin, a Tumpuon ethnic villager in Seda commune, expressed his elation over the creation of the protected area.

“We hope that protecting this area will help to preserve the forest, wildlife and biodiversity in our district more effectively,” he said.

Wildlife Conservation Society director Ken Serey Rotha welcomed the decision, saying the area has a lot of resources to promote culture and ecotourism.

However, Rotha also expressed some concerns. “We are worried about the effectiveness of environmental rangers because the budget allocated for them to patrol protected areas is limited,” he said.

He noted that the area is close to the Lumphat Wildlife Sanctuary.

Provincial Department of Environment deputy director San Sany said he has assigned rangers from the Lumphat Wildlife Sanctuary to temporarily manage the area.