Twenty-five rangers from 20 provinces have begun a 51-day special training course at the School of Active Military Thmart Porng in Kampong Speu province for operational patrols in protected areas.

The opening ceremony on August 1 was presided over by Tin Ponlok, secretary of state at the Ministry of Environment, and attended by the school’s director, Buth Sopheap.

Ponlok said 25 rangers had begun the special training in accordance with the ministry’s reform policies in institutional modernisation and in response to the scope of the work in the environmental sector, particularly the management of protected areas.

“The environment ministry has made many changes regarding the modernisation of institutions and built a modern administration to respond to the scope of work in line with the evolution of the Cambodian and global contexts.

“It has strengthened the management of natural resources and efforts in biodiversity, conservation and environmental protection, as well as improved law enforcement and regulations related to strengthening the capacity of civil servants to effectively manage protected areas,” he said.

Ponlok said the ministry continued to set out policies on more in-depth reforms regarding building leadership skills and modern administration systems, as well as promoting values for civil servants to take pride in, and enhancing the integrity and capacity of officials at all levels.

The policy aimed at regaining national pride and building a modern country in which people lived in a better environment and had higher living standards, as well as ensuring the sustainability of Cambodia’s environment and natural resources for future generations, he added.

“The training course will lasts for 51 days, and all participants will have to undergo

training in regulations, strategy, topography, handling weapons and shooting techniques, and take part in military training exercises and physical education,” Ponlok said.

Environment ministry spokesman Neth Pheaktra said Cambodia currently has 1,200 rangers guarding 76 protected areas, including wildlife sanctuaries, national parks, landscape protection areas, Ramsar sites and biodiversity corridors, which totalled 7.3 million hectares.

“The ministry also takes into account the health of rangers when considering training and strengthening capacity so they are fully capable of performing their duties with the best means for patrolling protected areas,” he said.