The Ministry of Environment has declared official recognition of the Balot protected community area, part of the Boeung Chhmar Ramsar site in Balot village, Peam Bang commune, in Kampong Thom province’s Stoung district.

The acknowledgement is aimed at preserving natural resources, culture, traditions, and religious beliefs, while promoting sustainable livelihoods through prudent use of resources.

A recent proclamation released by the ministry said the total land area of the Balot community is 65ha, created with the objective to amplify local community participation in managing resource sustainability and to enhance livelihoods, in accordance with government policy.

Neth Pheaktra, ministry spokesman, said on June 7 that the ministry has established 190 protected area communities, with 71,723 families currently participating in managing a total land area of 324,238ha.

“The formation of these communities is a green belt policy that safeguards core and conserved areas, and boosts participation from local community members in the sustainable use of natural resources,” he explained.

He added that the ministry continues to reinforce management and provide capacity building training across three levels of community networks: national, regional (south and north of the Tonle Sap Lake and east of the Mekong River), and local protected areas. Such training aims to fortify natural resource management and coordination with national, sub-national, and local administrations, and relevant institutions.

“The creation of local community-friendly economic activities, along with potential natural resource processing, contributes to the sustainable development of the national and local economy, and ensures a balance between development and conservation, while providing better living conditions for local communities,” he said.

Pheaktra noted that 53 of these communities provide ecotourism services, making significant contributions to enhancing community livelihoods, and conserving nature and biodiversity within the protected zones.

Regarding private sector involvement, Pheaktra stated its importance for development and conservation work via the “Tourism Connecting with Land and Water” project. He said the project consists of 22 large-scale tourism projects, covering 111,328ha, and 372 small-scale tourism projects, spanning a total area of 3,366ha.