Cambodia’s Prey Lang: how not to protect a vital forest

Authorities have failed to curb illegal logging and instead are cracking down on indigenous groups working to protect the forest.

By any metric, Cambodia’s Prey Lang forest is vitally important. A biodiversity hotspot, it spans approximately 500,000 hectares of diverse types of forest teeming with animals, insects and birds, including endangered species, and provides resin tapping and other sources of livelihood for many of the Indigenous Kuy People living within or adjacent to the sanctuary.

As the largest lowland rainforest in mainland Southeast Asia, Prey Lang also plays a key role in absorbing carbon from the atmosphere and is a crucial source of water for Cambodia. The government designated much of the forest as a protected Wildlife Sanctuary in 2016.

In February 2020, Ministry of Environment rangers blocked hundreds of community members, monks and environmental activists from entering the protected area to conduct an annual tree-blessing ceremony to promote conservation.

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