Gov’t Hopes To Boost Forest Cover

The Council of Ministers approved a draft subdecree on reforestation Friday that the government hopes will help Cam­bodia retain some of its diminishing forest cover.

The subdecree will allow private companies to invest in reforesting state-owned land that has been stripped of its tree cover, Agriculture Ministry Secretary of State Lim Sokun said on Sunday.

Lim Sokun said that the government hopes to recover 60 percent of deforested state land by 2015, but added that the government does not have enough money to replant the land on its own.

Lim Sokun said the companies could choose the species of tree they wished to plant but must share any revenue generated with the government in accordance with contracts signed.

“It is still the state’s property,” he added.

According to Lim Sokun, companies could approach the ministry if they found land they were interested in, or the ministry would invite private companies to invest. Preference would be given to companies considered able to provide the most revenue to the government from their reforestation effort.

A Council of Ministers statement released Friday said the new subdecree is aimed at encouraging families, local communities and private enterprises to cooperate with the Forestry Administration to help restore forests.

“This would contribute to reducing poverty as well as reducing the pressure to consume natural forestry,” the statement said.

SRP lawmaker Yim Sovann said that although the plan had some potential, he was concerned that the government would risk losing state land to private companies that would simply use the land for speculative purposes.

“Private companies may not respect the contracts and just keep the land to make money in the future,” he said.

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