A new protected area in Banteay Meanchey province was created by a sub-decree signed by Prime Minister Hun Sen on May 23, the Ministry of Environment announced yesterday.
The sub-decree granted protected status to 12,650 hectares of land at Ang Trapaing Thmor, according to a copy of the document.
However, local residents said the new protected area was mostly lake or deforested land.
“There is still 2,873 hectares of forest,” said Poy Char commune chief Peng Bunthara. “Before, we had tens of thousands of hectares of forest, but now we can hardly find any trees for shade.”
Residents of Ang Trapaing Thmor have been trying to protect their local environment for years, with mixed results, he added.
Prey Lang Community Network spokesman Seng Sokheng said protected area designations have little practical impact on the environment.
“It will not be effective if the government doesn’t stop the illegal timber business in Cambodia,” he said.