Prey Lang Lost 7,500 Hectares of Forest Cover Last Year, Satellites Show

Prey Lang Wildlife Sanctuary lost a record-breaking amount of tree cover last year, shedding patches of forest larger than the size of Phnom Penh’s Olympic Stadium football pitch for every hour of 2019, data compiled from satellite images shows.

The sanctuary, which spans about 430,000 hectares across Kratie, Stung Treng, Kampong Thom and Preah Vihear provinces, saw the highest level of deforestation last year since it was established as a protected area in 2016, according to an open letter addressed to Prey Lang stakeholders and sent to media on Thursday by Ida Theilade, a conservation scientist and University of Copenhagen professor who has studied the forest for more than a decade.

The Environment Ministry earlier this year banned independent forest patrols inside the sanctuary, with an official saying that the forest monitoring group Prey Lang Community Network (PLCN) was not a government-registered organization and claimed its members had entered the protected area illegally.

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