Home to 250,000 inhabitants, many from the indigenous Kuy people of Cambodia, Prey Lang, the last major lowland rainforest on the Southeast Asian mainland, is getting more protection efforts from the Cambodian government and greater attention from the international community.1 The Royal Government of Cambodia (RGC) is working with national authorities to enforce the protection of the forest in order to reduce forest degradation in Prey Lang.2 Nevertheless, some local NGOs and activist groups remain cautious because the area is allegedly the subject of massive exploitation through legal schemes of concessions and illegal logging. In a joint statement endorsed by a network of 49 civil society organizations, Prey Lang Community Networks (PLCN) reported that, within Prey Lang and its surrounding areas, “234,784.08 ha of economic land concessions, 264,693.23 ha of mining concessions, and 884.20 ha of forestry concessions” have been issued to 53 concession companies and 4,000 ha has been granted to people under the terms of social land concessions.3
Prey Lang is protected by the national laws and regulations of Cambodia. The Forestry Law sets the base for the protection and conservation of the forest area and its rich biodiversity through protected forest and community forestry mechanisms. The Sub-decree on Community Forestry, and more recently, the Law on Natural Protected Areas, provide legal and institutional frameworks, especially with zone management of the protected areas in accordance with each area’s specific category of importance in biodiversity, economy and livelihood, and education and research. Taking account of Prey Lang’s importance and coming under criticism from local communities and environmental activists, the government raised the level of the forest’s protection category to Prey Lang Wildlife Sanctuary, from protected forest, in 2016.
Prey Lang Wildlife Sanctuary might be different in size and geographical coverage from the area called Prey Lang forest. The Prey Lang area has uncertain boundaries since it has been defined just by words and traditions of the local people in the area. At its establishment, the Prey Lang Wilidlife Sanctuary appears to have a better and clearer boundary, especially with the geographical information and coordinate details defined by the sub-decree of its establishment. However, considering the existing forest, the present sanctuary size and boundaries are subject to criticism by some advocacy NGOs and environmental activists.4 The size of the Wildlife Sactuary established by the government is reportedly far smaller than the actual size of the forest. Depending on the information source, the area ranges from 305,366 ha to over 615,306ha.
- 1. Rainforest Rescue. “Cambodia: Our rainforest needs protection.” Accessed 1 November 2016. https://www.rainforest-rescue.org/petitions/907/cambodia-our-rainforest-needs-protection
- 2. May Titthara. “Prey Lang Protection Moves Forward”. Khmer Times, 18 April 2016. Accessed 27 October 2016. http://www.khmertimeskh.com/news/23932/prey-lang-protection-moves-forward/
- 3. NGO Forum on Cambodia. “Joint Statement on Alarming Towards the Disaster of Prey Lang,” dated on 26 May 2015. Accessed 18 October 2016. https://ngoforum.org.kh/files/513ff3c46a11b7fb60c077128fc73242-Final-Joint-Statement-PreyLang—-EN-22-06-15.pdf
- 4. Kuch Naren. “Prey Lang shorted in new protected areas”. The Cambodia Daily, 30 April 2016. Accessed 1 November 2016. https://english.cambodiadaily.com/news/prey-lang-shorted-in-new-protected-areas-111963/