Minister of Environment Say Sam Al has urged relevant stakeholders to take part in protecting and conserving natural resources in wildlife sanctuaries. This, he said, will facilitate carbon credit sales to raise money to support local communities.
Sam Al made his suggestion when he led experts and relevant local authorities on a visit to Mondulkiri province to examine the protection and conservation of the Keo Seima Wildlife Sanctuary on Tuesday and Wednesday.
He said thanks to improved efforts to manage and conserve protected areas, Cambodia has sold carbon credits from that sanctuary, the South Cardamom Mountains and the Tatai Wildlife Sanctuary within the framework of the voluntary market to carbon investment companies for $11.6 million since 2016.
“The government wants the communities to earn more income and create new occupation options so they can break free from their long-standing dependence on forest products.
“The idea is to create more jobs in the eco-tourism sector as well as train the communities to manage and feed animals to supply the market and for their daily use and tourists that visit their communities,” he said.
The sanctuary’s director Prom Vibolratanak said on Tuesday that Sam Al had messaged and encouraged officials carrying out their respective duties at each wildlife sanctuary, but did not say anything besides pushing them to work hard in conserving the forests.
“Sam Al and other officials promised to work hard, especially in cooperating with development partners in the conservation of natural resources.
“In the past, there have been some obstacles around the patrolling of crimes because of the limited number of task force officers and the high number of perpetrators with weapons, making it difficult to arrest perpetrators.
“There are few cases of forest crimes [here] but we have been cracking down consistently on land encroachments.
“We patrol regularly and the people with land next to the wildlife sanctuary have come to request the building of fences and we also allowed that. There’s no such thing as land encroachment, we protect well,” he said.
Thot Sokha, a member of the forestry community at the sanctuary said on Tuesday that he was not aware of Sam Al’s message to the officers, but he said local officials have done little to prevent forest crimes and land encroachments happening in the area.
He said there are currently not many forest crimes compared to before, but land encroachments are still happening in the area. He said a few days ago bulldozers cleared the path up a mountain. A fence was built on the land as well.
“I think the leaders should come down to examine these situations to know the actual geographical situation, the job and the attitudes of officials and not just read the reports. I want the Minister to come down and examine this,” Sokha said.