NGOs To Celebrate World Environment Day

At least two local NGOs aim to bring environmental issues to the forefront today, which the UN has tagged World Environment Day.

The Mlup Baitong NGO is sponsoring events in Chambok village, Phnom Srouch district, Kompong Speu province, where earlier this year it established the area’s first eco-tourism project.

Children will dress as wild animals and parade through the village, then enter a quiz on the environment, said Mlup Bai­tong coordinator Amanda Bradley. Several local officials will also attend a ceremony in the village, she said.

In January, Mlup Baitong opened the 70-hectare park to be managed by representatives from surrounding villages. More than a dozen villagers were trained as park guides to lead visitors through the forest to a 30-meter-high waterfall.

Profits from admission prices and oxcart rides in the park are directed into a local public coffer.

Bradley said the project has already helped curb the illegal harvesting of timber and raised the villagers’ awareness of the park’s wildlife, which includes elephants and the Asiatic black bear.

Poaching, however, remains a problem, Bradley said. Last week a former park ranger was arrested for killing and eating a 300-kg guar, an endangered feral ox.

Villagers “are a lot more aware of the necessity to protect the forest, but according to various surveys, we still have some work to do as far as protecting wildlife,” she said.

“Now there’s a mechanism in place so that they can do something about these problems,” she said.

The NGO Forum is also sponsoring a series of speeches at the Royal University of Phnom Penh to educate young people about the environment.

On Wednesday schoolchildren near Poipet participated in educational programs about the environment, and similar programs will take place elsewhere in the provinces today, said NGO For­um Director Russel Peterson.

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