The Ministry of Environment and Siem Reap provincial administration have formed a joint committee to deliberate the relocation of 5,000 people from Kulen Mountain following deforestation in the tourist area.
Ministry spokesman Neth Pheaktra said on Sunday that the livelihood of the people affects the environment and natural resources.
“In the past, the clearing of forestland which occurred on mountains caused a loss of natural resources and impacted natural and historical tourist spots,” he said.
The joint committee arranged an appropriate spot for relocation not far from the national park.
Pheaktra said the new location will allow people to live and run the same businesses as before.
“The joint committee is studying and identifying the people living on Kulen Mountain in order to prevent the impact of environmental pollution at this natural tourist location, which is also a sacred place for Cambodians,” he said.
However, Pheaktra said the relocation date has not yet been set.
The Ministry of Environment and the Siem Reap provincial authority have considered this relocation for a long time, but discussions were started again after a meeting on October 11 between Siem Reap provincial governor Khem Bun Song and Ministry of Environment secretary of state Sao Sopheap.
At the meeting, Sopheap said deforestation on Kulen Mountain is causing a loss of natural resources in the tourist area.
Song confirmed in the meeting that provincial authorities had arranged a joint committee to manage the people living on Kulen Mountain in front of the large Buddha statue and waterfall in order to avoid further environmental impact.
Adhoc’s investigator in Siem Reap province Suos Narin welcomed the committee’s measures to relocate the people but asked that an appropriate place is prepared for them to run their businesses.
“The people’s livelihood really affects the natural resources there and the number of people keeps increasing too. I support this measure, but [the committee] should find a suitable place to prevent conflicts between authorities and the people,” he said.
The government recognised the Kulen Mountain area as protected in 1993 with the name Preah Jayavarman-Norodom Phnom Kulen National Park.
Many battles were fought there during the war with some troops settling down in the area.