USAID planning out Preah Vihear project

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Tree ordination in the Kulen Promtep Wildlife Sanctuary in Preah Vihear province. USAID

The US Agency for International Development’s (USAID) Greening Prey Lang Project is working on a “Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation” (REDD+) project that will provide sustainable financing for four protected areas in Preah Vihear province.

This project will prepare consultation meetings on Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) consultation in the 51 villages that fall within the REDD+ project area, according to USAID Greening Prey Lang.

According UN human rights declarations, FPIC consultations are a right possessed by indigenous people that in principle requires that any development project being carried out in their territory must be consented to by them before proceeding.

This assertion was made on the USAID Greening Prey Lang Facebook page on June 8 after recent stakeholder consultation meetings between national and local authorities, who were provided training on the principles of FPIC and their roles and responsibilities.

USAID’s Greening Prey Lang Facebook page stated that they will hold FPIC consultations in the 51 villages that fall within the REDD+ project area.

These villages are within and around Kulen Promtep, Preah Roka and Chhaeb Wildlife Sanctuaries in addition to the Phnom Tbaeng Natural Heritage Park.

“When forests are left standing, we can get a financial return through carbon sales. Carbon sales provide co-benefits to communities and finance protected area management,” USAID’s Greening Prey Lang project asserted.

Chhun Delux, project manager at the forestry administration of Cambodia, which will lead the implementation of the REDD+ project in Prey Lang, noted that the announcement of the REDD+ project has not been made official yet.

“There have been many announcements of initiatives around this issue, but there is no official document from the government to approve the REDD+ project. This announcement is just regarding what USAID plans to do if it is approved,” he said.

However, Chhun said if the project is approved it could contribute greatly to protecting the environment and provide significant help to the communities in those areas. At the same time, he said that if the study of the project shows that the investment returns are less than the initial investment, then it should be reconsidered.