AMERICAN conservationist Ben Davis has received a grant of $20,000 from the Ministry of Environment for protecting and preserving forest and wildlife within the Phnom Tnout-Phnom Pok Wildlife Sanctuary in Preah Vihear province’s Sangkum Thmei district.
The donation was made during a fund-raising concert under the theme No forest, No Life in Sangkum Thmei district on Sunday.
The ministry’s secretary of state and spokesman Neth Pheaktra said the government will continue to promote cooperation with relevant parties in its conservation efforts.
“Not only $20,000 but we have a lot more to offer him and will continue to support him for the next five years so that he can pursue his projects."
“The money is from the ministry’s Environment and Social Fund and also from companies in the private sectors that make contributions to conservationists’ environmental protection efforts,” he said.
Pheaktra said Prime Minister Hun Sen has advised the ministry to protect conservationists and to collaborate with other relevant non-governmental organisations in preserving natural resources.
He said the ministry has been working closely with NGOs and local communities, including the Prey Lang Community Network to patrol forests and address challenges faced by conservationists.
Speaking with The Post on Monday, Davis said he was pleased with the ministry’s contribution, adding he will first spend $10,000 to build a road that connects the sanctuary with villages in the communities.
Davis will also allocate $5,000 to offset villagers’ loss of crops due to wild animals and another $5,000 to develop the local communities.
With the ministry’s promise of financial support for another five years, Davis said the fund will not only help promote conservation efforts but also improve the local communities’ livelihood.
“The ministry has given me the opportunity to pursue development projects in the area … Through the fund, I will contribute all to [conservation and] community development,” he said.
Khieu Borin, head of the ministry’s General Department of Local Communities who handed over the funds to Davis during the Green Concert, reiterated the ministry’s financial support for his conservation projects for the next five years.
Borin said the government’s ongoing support is meant to encourage Davis and the local communities, who have made significant contributions to environmental causes, to pursue their conservation activities at the Phnom Tnout-Phnom Pok wildlife sanctuary in Preah Vihear province.
“The government encourages relevant parties and citizens to take part in our natural resource protection,” he said.
Hailing from Oregon, US, Davis and his Australian wife, Sharyn, have settled in Cambodia since the early 1990s.
With local support, the environmental activist has established a forest community in Preah Vihear’s Rovieng district, which has become a part of the Phnom Tnout Wildlife Sanctuary.