Angkor sells out: Cambodia turns a blind eye to vanishing forests

A growing number of reports show that large-scale deforestation continues in Cambodia’s protected forests, often with tacit endorsement from government officials—despite promises of conservation.

A series of reports this year show that protected forest areas across Cambodia are under increasing threat from land grabs and deforestation.

As Cambodians struggle with the economic impacts of COVID-19, journalists and advocates report that illegal logging and land development continues, from central Cambodia’s Prey Lang Forest to the Cardamom Mountains and the vital Tonle Sap lake.

A new study published in August by researchers at University of Nevada found that forest-loss rates since 2011 for Cambodia and the Sekong–Sesan–Srepok river basin were twice as high as in the period from 2004 to 2011, and three times higher than forest-loss rates in the 1990s. From 2001 to 2018, Cambodia lost around a quarter of its forest cover, reports Global Forest Watch. The country saw more deforestation than any country in Asia during the period, driven in large part by agricultural plantations and logging for valuable timber like rosewood.

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