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Ministry of Environment issues island protection decree

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Coastline in Sihanoukville. Chhim Sreyneang

Ministry of Environment issues island protection decree

A new decree has been issued by the Ministry of Environment in regards to the protection and preservation of nature within the Kingdom.

To be officially administered in the near future, the decree will ensure that investment projects associated with island properties or along the coastline will be made into a more progressive venture that takes into account thorough scrutiny over the exact size of the invested property. Moreover, the degree could even annul projects that are idle.

During the first national convention festival discussing “The creation, protection, and preservation of the biological diversity of a system that protects nature” on Tuesday, Environment Minister Say Samal stated that this convention is a new era for the sustainable preservation of Cambodian natural resources in the future.

According to Samal, he has tried to encourage his subordinates, especially the team associated with the beach areas, to pay much more attention to the issue. On the subject of beaches and coasts, Samal asked: “Should all islands in Cambodia be listed as world heritage or not?”

He proceeded to express his opinions, saying, “For myself, I think that they should have already been listed as world heritage sites, because if all the trees on the island are cut off, there will surely be no more fresh water on them.”

He added, “Even a small-sized island is prohibited by the ministry to use well water, due to the reason that if the locals keep pumping up fresh water from the ground, some years later, the sea water will replace the fresh water and kill the trees. Moreover, the island wouldn’t be covered with sand, and even if they did, no one would want to visit them any longer.”

Besides having already enlisted Koh Rong and Koh Thmey in the world heritage list, Samal explained that a way forward for other islands to be considered for world heritage sites would be to ponder over the fresh water matter. He said, “It’s not easy to take fresh water from the country to supply the islands.”

Back in the days, there were many investment projects on Koh Thmey, but most of them became inactive, thus prompting termination by the government. He clarified that he was currently preparing a report for Prime Minister Hun Sen regarding the islands’ future.

“First, we won’t give the entire land for investment. Secondly, we will organise the master plan by ourselves; if investors intend to build resorts, for example, in the size of five hectares, we will strictly only give that five hectares or only a [small] part of the property.”

“This is a golden chance for all of us to leave the next generation some precious inheritance,” Samal said.

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