Prime Minister Hun Sen on May 27 issued a sub-decree to downgrade more than 34sq km of land in Zone 3 of the protected area surrounding Tonle Sap Lake to Zone 2, which will allow restricted use for the 1,658 households in Pursat province that rely on it.
From the north in clockwise direction, Southeast Asia’s largest freshwater lake by surface area is bordered by five provinces – Siem Reap, Kampong Thom, Kampong Chhnang, Pursat and Battambang – with Banteay Meanchey in the northwest also encompassed in the system.
The Tonle Sap Area has been classified into three zones. Private residence and land ownership is allowed only in Zone 1, whereas land use in Zone 2 is restricted to certain subsistence activities. Zone 3 is strictly protected area.
Effective immediately, May 27’s sub-decree covers 3,448.77ha in parts of three northeastern Pursat districts: Bakan, Kandieng and Krakor – from west to east.
In Bakan, the move will benefit 367 households, downgrading 1,156.60ha – stretching across the communes of O’Taporng, Metoek and Boeung Bot Kandorl – to Zone 2.
In Kandieng, the 1,169.72ha in Sre Sdok, Sya, Raingtoel and Kanhchor communes will benefit 585 households.
And in Krakor, the 1,122.45ha in Kampong Por, O’Sandan, Kampong Luong and Ansar Chambak communes will benefit 706 households.
Hun Sen instructed Minister in Charge of the Council of Ministers Bin Chhin and the land management, interior and water resources ministers, as well as provincial and other competent authorities to effectively enforce the sub-decree.
The sub-decree was issued on the same day that the prime minister instructed authorities in six provinces to re-evaluate protected area zoning in the flooded forests surrounding the Tonle Sap Lake, to ensure that long-time residents of local communities would not be required to relocate.