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More Than Half Original Forest Remains: Official

Cambodia has lost about 13 percent of its forest cover since the onset of the Khmer Rouge regime, with only about 60 percent of original forest remaining, a forestry official said Thursday.

“Based on a 2006 evaluation, there is 59 percent of the forest remaining, compared to 1970, when there was 73 percent,” said Chea Sam Ang, deputy director of the Ministry of Agriculture’s forestry administration, as a guest on “Hello VOA.”

The decline of the forest was from the growth of the population, he said, denying allegations of destruction of the forest and wildlife. Some wildlife thought extinct had even been found, he said.

Meanwhile, heavy fines and imprisonment of five to 10 years await illegal hunters and wildlife traffickers, he said. Preservation of wildlife needed the participation of the people, he said.

Chea Sam Ang applauded the government’s policy on forestry, despite worries from critics about deforestation.

“Hello VOA” callers said they had seen enough government preservation efforts in their areas, especially the provinces of Banteay Meanchey, Kratie and Ratanakkiri, where wildlife killed daily.