The Ministry of Environment and the Wildlife Alliance have agreed to organise activities that will educate and promote an environmentally friendly movement in the Cardamom Mountain range by holding a youth debate forum in 2022. This came as ministry officials inspected 10 mountain areas that will potentially be earmarked as natural heritage sites.

Ministry officials and Wildlife Alliance founder and CEO Suwanna Gauntlett met at the ministry’s headquarters to discuss the project, which they hoped would strengthen the environmental movement.

“The meeting agreed to hold the youth debate forum on the environment in 2022 and selected students in schools from Preah Sihanouk and Koh Kong provinces. We are planning this event in preparation for the 4th national environmentally friendly school competition 2023 in Koh Kong and Pursat provinces – and in support of the buffalo rearing project in communities in the Cardamom Mountain range,” the ministry announced on March 11.

Ministry spokesman Neth Pheaktra told The Post on March 14 that the educational activities included the promotion of knowledge of the protection and development of natural resources, adaptation to climate change, and the impact of environmental destruction on local economic development.

He said the activities are intended to help people living in the Cardamom Mountain range to learn more about the problems surrounding natural resource management and the environment to encourage cooperation in protecting and conserving it.

“The Cardamom Mountains are densely forested, with many plants and animals. The ministry – along with Wildlife Alliance and relevant organisations – has done a lot of work to strengthen law enforcement and build the economy of the area. We have created livelihoods for the people of the Cardamoms so that they will join us in protecting the forest. The mountain range also generates carbon credit sales,” he said.

Separately on March 10, ministry officials also inspected potential natural heritage sites.

“The Bantheay Meanchey provincial environment department director and his colleagues joined a working group from the ministry to inspect the boundaries of the potential mountain areas ahead of launching the procedure to admit them to the ministry’s list of heritage sites,” said the department.

The inspection was led by Seng Sot, deputy head of the ministry’s general department of local community. He was joined by officials from all levels and representatives of relevant parties.

Wildlife Alliance CEO Suwanna Gauntlett told The Post on March 14 that the youth debate will provide an opportunity for high school students to improve their environmental knowledge by conducting research ahead of the forum. It will also allow them to share their findings and recommendations with the public.

“It will also feature an eco-school, which brings the benefits of enhancing the school environment and engaging students in environmental protection, biodiversity conservation, wildlife protection and addressing climate change,” she said.

Suwanna said a video production on REDD+ (Reduced Emissions from Forest Degradation and Deforestation) will also be screened, to promote the benefits of REDD+ projects to residents.