Ministry of Environment officials on Sunday distributed breeding stock to 62 families living in communities in the Koh Indra Chey natural protected area in Kratie province’s Sambor Wildlife Sanctuary.

The move will help raise their living standards and develop local economies.

Ministry spokesman Neth Pheaktra told The Post on Monday that the distribution also aimed to promote environmental protection and the sustainable use of natural resources, especially for residents who rely heavily on forest produce and hunting of wildlife animals to sustain their daily needs.

“They [families] live in the national protected areas, so we need to limit their dependence on natural resources. As a first step, we distributed breeding stock to the families and asked them to grow fruits, which would supply their daily needs.

“This way, their reliance on forest produce and hunting will decline because they would have livestock available in their localities, which they could even breed and sell to generate income,” he said.

In its Facebook post, the ministry’s General Department of Local Communities deputy director-general Moeun Makara said on Sunday that each of the 23 families in the communities received a cow, while each of the 20 families was provided with a 15kg rooster and a piece of green chicken wire mesh.

The remaining 19 families received three breeding pigs each.

“The residents are obliged to share cows, pigs and chickens with other community members once the animals they raise start breeding,” said Makara.

However, Cambodian Youth Network co-founder Sar Mory said on Monday providing livestock to families does little to reduce deforestation or limit their reliance on forest produce.

Because of limited law enforcement, Mory said, poverty-stricken residents might be prompted to fell timber rather than breed livestock because the former generates a much greater income.

“Besides the livestock project, the ministry, especially the rangers and local authorities, has to effectively enforce the Law on Environmental Protection and Natural Resource Management, the Forestry Law and the Land Law.

“If there are still irregularities in the implementation of these laws, then I think that no matter how much the livestock project elevates community living standards, the forests will remain unprotected,” he said.