Tucked away in a little-visited corner of eastern Cambodia is a tiny “sea of forest” that undulates near Roeung Haeng’s home.
Here, the songs of yellow-cheeked crested gibbons (Nomascus gabriellae) pierce the quiet canopy in the early mornings. Later in the day, the rising hum of male cicadas contorting their ribs and females snapping their wings in response erupts in a deafening cacophony that’s absent from lands stripped bare of their forest habitat.
For Roeung’s community, members of the Bunong Indigenous group, the forest is also a source of fruit, honey and mushrooms, as well as medicine and resin, which brings in some cash. The forest also houses sacred areas for the Bunong.