Government to Boost Protected Forestlands by 6 Million Hectares

The Ministry of Environment has prepared a list of 41 tracts of state land that will be redesignated as protected forests, which it will send to the Ministry of Land Management before the end of the week to be officially registered, environment officials said on Thursday.

The decision, which follows the establishment of 18 protected areas on land transferred from the Agriculture Ministry, was the latest step in government efforts to protect nature, Environment Minister Say Sam Sal said on Thursday by telephone.

He declined to comment further, but ministry spokesman Sao Sopheap explained that the 41 areas covered around 6 million hectares across the country, many of which are close to existing communities and economic land concessions, and that by properly registering and demarcating the areas, environment officials would be better able to monitor them.

Mr. Sopheap stressed that while the areas would receive protected status, communities that currently earn their livelihoods from the forested areas could continue to do so. “I wish to state that the [local] people have the right to financially benefit in the protected areas,” he said.

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