The Ministry of Agriculture’s forestry administration on Monday signed an agreement with nine communities in the north of the country to protect thousands of hectares of forest.
The scheme, being implemented for the first time, seeks to better protect 60,000 hectares of forest in Oddar Meanchey and Siem Reap provinces.
“It means that the forestry administration gave us the legal rights to manage the forest,” said leav Lin, a representative for one of the communities in Oddar Meanchey’s Banteay Ampil district.
The agreement urges villagers, civil servants student and members of the armed forces to protect the forest and plant trees, said Chea Sam Ang, deputy director of the forestry administration.
Illegal land grabs and deforestation are threatening the natural environment, he said, calling on perpetrators of forest crimes to stop their activities.
Chee Boreth, executive director of the Children Development Association, an organization that also focuses on forestry community projects in Oddor Meanchey, said that in the past four months alone, the group had uncovered the illegal clearance of 400 hectares of forest in the province.
The new agreement will likely curb the practice, he said, as villagers are allowed to manage forests in their own communities.