Newly Protected Forests To Act As Deterrent to Illegal Logging

The Council of Ministers on Friday approved a drafted sub-de­cree written by the Ministry of Agriculture to establish a new protected forest area in Mondolkiri and Kratie provinces, officials said Sunday.

According to a statement releas­ed after the meeting, the area will be classified as protected forest to prevent illegal logging, protect biodiversity and wildlife in the area.

The newly established protected forest covers a large area in Keo Seima district in Mondolkiri and Kratie province’s Snuol district. The statement, however, did not specify the size of the area.

Thun Sarath, a spokesman for Ministry of Agriculture’s Forestry Administration, confirmed that the area known as “Seima” will now be classified as protected forest, but he could not say how big the area will be.

“It is the…Forestry Administra­tion’s response for protection of forest and wildlife. This may be the 10th protected forest,” Mr Sarath said.

“The goal is to protect the forest, wildlife, biodiversity and ecology in the area,” he added, before re­ferring further questions to Men Pi­mean, bureau chief for Ministry of Agri­culture’s wildlife department, who could not be reached for comment.

The area, which will now be protected under Cambodian law, consists mainly of thick forests and is the habitat of many different animal species, said Mondolkiri Governor Say Sokha.

It is important to classify this as a protected forest because there is a lot of illegal logging in the area, he added.

When asked if the classification alone would prevent deforestation in the area, Mr Sokha said: “It is up to the Forestry Administration.”

Seng Bunra, country director for Conservation International, said he was unaware that the area had been classified as protected forest.

“Protected forest means that the forest is protected by law, but local people can still use the forest for traditional purposes,” he said.

   (Additional reporting by Cajsa Collin)

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