Conservationists look for ‘divine intervention’ from forest development

Legal exceptions and uncertain protections have paved the way for construction and potential wildlife disruption within Cambodia’s Phnom Tamao Forest.

A two-lane dirt road truncates the northeastern tree line of Phnom Tamao Forest, marking the start of a housing complex on private land bordering the protected area.

Dozens of boundary markers cemented underneath the tree canopies of the forest indicate the plans for land exchange deals that would clear the way for development within the protected area itself.

Phnom Tamao, originally believed to be protected, is now threatened by shadowy construction plans, according to conservationists who worry for the future of a rescue centre and endangered wildlife in the sanctuary forest. Additionally, the privatisation of a protected area so close to Phnom Penh could indicate increased danger for Cambodia’s protected forests beyond the watch of environmental groups.

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