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Officials Downplay Continued Loss of Forest Cover

Forest were cut down for land concession in Rattanak Kiri, Cambodia, August 26, 2014.

Cambodian agriculture and forestry officials are downplaying new maps and a study from a US university that show widespread devastation to Cambodia’s forest cover.

A University of Maryland study used high-resolution satellite imagery that shows Cambodia lost 7 percent of its forest cover between 2000 and 2012.

That’s a much lower number than was lost the previous decade, about 17 percent, or 12,600 hectares, according to the study, which was published in 2013.

More maps published this week by the university show continued loss of forest cover in 2013, including in concession areas and protected forests.

However, Chheng Kim Sun, director-general of the Ministry of Agriculture’s Forestry Administration, said the new data should not be a concern. According to a government study in 2010, Cambodia still has some 57 percent of its forest cover, he said.