Loudspeakers latest in arsenal to fight forest crimes

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The Mondulkiri provincial Department of Environment has installed loudspeakers on tuk-tuks to spread the advantage and significance of conserving and preserving natural resources. Photo supplied

The Mondulkiri provincial Department of Environment has installed loudspeakers on tuk-tuks and motorbikes to be driven around villages prone to natural resource crimes to educate citizens on the importance of protecting forests.

Provincial Department of Environment director Keo Sopheak said on Monday that the loudspeakers would spread messages encouraging villagers to take part in protecting natural resources rather than plundering them.

“We installed the loudspeakers on motorcycles, vans and tuk-tuks to spread the advantage and significance of conserving and preserving natural resources and disseminating the law on natural resource protection for citizens in villages, communes and districts around protected areas.

“We have also disseminated letters citing some articles relating to penalties for natural resource destruction such as forest land clearing, wildlife hunting and logging. We hope citizens will learn from these,” he said.

He said the loudspeakers would also be driven around Kouprey Roundabout in Sen Monorom town, the heart of the province.

The campaign aims to encourage everyone to take part in the protection and conservation of wild animals and biodiversity.

Sopheak said the Department of Environment would regularly spread information, especially over the weekends.

The department, in collaboration with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), will also educate students at schools near protected areas, he said.

The campaign, Sopheak said, is necessary because despite educating villagers in the past, some remain ignorant and continue to carry out forest crimes.

“Because they still rely on natural resources for their livelihoods, they have yet to fully change to make a living another way.

“Citizens still enter some areas where there is a demand for land to clear conservation forests. But we stop them and take some legal measures,” he said.

Mondulkiri provincial forest activist Kroeung Tola said he supports the campaign and has requested that natural resource offenders face the law if they do not correct their ways.

“This dissemination helps increase the knowledge of citizens. But authorities must also apply the law after this dissemination,” he said.

Ministry of Environment spokesman Neth Pheaktra said Cambodia has the highest level of forests in Southeast Asia with some 50 per cent of the country covered.

The government has so far increased the natural protected area managed by the Ministry of Environment.

This increase accounts for 41 per cent of land in the country, which is equivalent to about 7.2 million hectares. There are 56 natural protected areas along with three biodiversity conservation corridors.

“Forest rangers and the relevant authorities have tried to protect and conserve natural protected areas, but some nefarious people have secretly cleared and occupied state forest land illegally.

“The Ministry of Environment took legal action against offenders and built many case files to be forwarded to courts in Preah Sihanouk, Preah Vihear, Kampong Thom, Battambang, Pursat and Kampong Speu provinces,” he said.