30 May 2011

Save the Prey Lang Forest

In 2010 Cambodia issued a 5v + S/S set to raise public awareness in combating climate change. Two stamps are devoted to forest protection:

Cambodia has one of the highest rates of deforestation in the world although HM King Sihamoni have cried out for forest protection.

Last Wednesday 200 representatives from Prey Lang (Prey Long) protested in Phnom Penh calling for a Economic Land Concession (ELC) license suspension in Prey Lang. There are more protesters back in Prey Lang.

Protesters including Buddhist monks hope the government
can save Prey Lang. (courtesy: Cambodia Sin Chew Daily)

The representatives gathered at Freedom Park to hand officials a petition signed by more than 30,000 people opposed to land concessions in the Prey Lang forest.

Location of Prey Lang. The forest covers parts of Preah Vihear,
Steung Treng, Kratie and Kampong Thom provinces.

Prey Lang, situated in northern Cambodia, is an area of 360,000 hectares which is the largest of intact lowland evergreen forest remaining in all Indochinese Peninsula. It is home to the Kuy indigenous tribe as well as a whole diversity of wildlife including nearly a hundred endangered or threatened species of fauna and flora.

Rare Prey Lang fauna include Indochinese tiger,
Gaur, Asian elephant and Giant ibis.

In spite of these, provincial officials describe Prey Lang as a "dull forest". Many ELCs have been approved to explore. Projects include logging, mining, plantations and road network.

According to the government, ELCs are designed to "...increase employment in rural areas within a framework of intensification and diversification of livelihood opportunities and within a framework of natural resource management based on appropriate ecological system". However this is not what the people of Prey Lang have found.

The Prey Lang forest in Kampong Thom Province has lost 6,000 hectares to CRCK for commercial rubber plantation, another 1,000 hectares in Preah Vihear Province are awarded to PNT. The companies have started destroying forest to make way for rubber trees, local residents found more than 243,650 trees are cut in the primary forest. Two more plantations are planned to the north of this area, the government may already have awarded these concessions.

More than 200,000 people, mostly indigenous, live in or around the forest in four provinces and a significant number depend on the forest resources for their livelihoods. There are 339 villages around Prey Lang, forest destruction means a loss of home and survival.

Protesters reveal that the two ELCs are licensed to Vietnamese companies, the Vietnamese bulldoze Prey Lang without any environmental impact assessments, and take the best Cambodian timber to Vietnam. At the end of the day Vietnamese enterprises are benefited while Cambodians and the environment suffer.

More on Prey Lang:

A short extract of an hour long documentary by Ben and Jocelyn Pederick:
Prey Lang One Forest One Future. Full version will be available soon.

Learn about Prey Lang and updated news: Prey Lang – It's YOUR Forest Too!

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