Environment rangers and community members patrolled the Prey Lang Wildlife Sanctuary 511 times within the first four months of the year and prevented 399 forest crimes in four provinces.
Ministry of Environment secretary of state and spokesman Neth Pheaktra said on Thursday that a report on the management and protection at Prey Lang showed that 32 cases of logging and land clearing had been sent to the courts for legal action.
In 42 cases involving nearly 100 people, cease and desist contracts had been signed.
While patrolling Prey Lang in Kampong Thom, Preah Vihear, Stung Treng and Kratie provinces, they also seized a lot of evidence, including 193 chainsaws, two trucks, 34 tractors, 25 motorbikes, 179 cubic metres of wood and 165 timber logs.
In addition, the rangers and communities found and dismantled 34 illegal huts, seized 29 home-made rifles and removed 724 traps.
“The success is the effort of the rangers and communities at the protected areas who worked to protect and preserve Prey Lang for the next generation,” Pheaktra said.
Although patrols take place in the day and at night, small crimes like logging, land clearing for private ownership and poaching still happen, he said.
Pheaktra said some factors leading to such crimes include the poor living standards of the communities who depend on forest products, incitement from criminal elements and the small number of ranger stations in the areas.
He confirmed that the government has a strong commitment to stamping out natural resource crimes.
The ministry and development partners, he said, have paid close attention in preparing and enforcing management mechanisms and providing resources and equipment.
“This is in addition to improving the living standards of the local communities through job creation and improving eco-tourism to ensure the effectiveness of the management work at Prey Lang,” Pheaktra said.
Srey Thei, a Prey Lang Community Network (PLCN) member in Kratie province, said even if rangers and community members were working hard to stop the crimes, some outsiders were still trying to enter the forest to log and clear it for their private ownership.
“Currently, many people from different provinces went to clear the forest at Prey Lang. Some logging still happens with transport on motorbikes and tractors. Without any enforcement, the forest will be soon lost, so even small crimes must be stamped out,” he stressed.
Pheaktra said the ministry is practising a preservation project called Greening Prey Lang with the financial support of $21 million from USAID.
The project aims to improve the preservation work of biodiversity and the situation of ecosystems and to create sustainability and opportunity for the economic sector and community livelihood at Prey Lang.