Government and Forest Communities Committed to Protect Natural Resources

Ministry of Environment and Forest-dependent communities have reaffirmed their commitment to protect natural resources in the Eastern Plains Landscape.

This commitment has been announced yesterday after representatives from 12 Community Protected Areas (CPAs) in Phnom Prich, Srepok and Keo Seima wildlife sanctuaries in Mondulkiri province signed agreement with Mondulkiri Department of Local Community of the Ministry of Environment (MoE).

With this, a total number of 12,804 CPA members in Mondulkiri will have full legal rights to sustainable natural resources management after signing CPA agreement with the MoE.

The 12 CPAs covering 44,139 ha of forest areas with around 12,804 (46 percent women) registered members will have full ownership and responsibility to sustainably manage the natural resources in their communities. They can develop and implement plans for natural resources management in their communities, and they can also sustainably use natural resources such as Non-Timber Forest Products (NTFPs) and eco-tourism based on the law of protected areas. The efforts of establishing CPAs were possible with the support from the European Union (EU), USAID, BMZ, GEF and UN Environment through the CAMPAS project.

Besides NTFPs and livelihoods activities, CPA members also regularly patrol in cooperation with MoE law enforcement team and local authorities in their respective Community Protected Area. They combat forest crimes and remove snares off the forests in the protected areas.

Mr. Breoy Khverk, Chief of Trapaing Khaerm CPA, said: regular patrol inside CPA is important because natural resources are our 'rice pots' for all community members, both the current generation and our next generations. Currently, there are 577 community patrolling members vigilantly watching over the forests in Phnom Prich and Srepok wildlife sanctuaries.

The main objective of establishing the CPAs is to effectively reinforce and improve the management of the forests, biodiversity and wildlife in the CPAs and acknowledge the CPAs' full legal rights and ownership in sustainably managing and using these natural resources with high responsibility, said Mr. Seng Teak, Country Director of WWF-Cambodia, at the CPA signing ceremony.

H.E. Ms. Mom Thany, Secretary of State for Environment said MoE would like to express the support and also work together with all partners in developing and implementing the natural resource management by communities in Cambodia. Communities are one of the driving forces for the sustainable natural resource management because local communities are those who live in and adjacent to the Community Protected Areas and directly depend on natural resources for their long-term livelihoods.

Mondulkiri province contains a magnificence of forests and natural resources. It is home to many globally endangered species such as banteng, leopard, Asian elephant, guar, Eld's deer, green peafowl and giant ibis. We need to join hands to protect these invaluable natural resources, and communities are at the heart of this joint effort, said Mr. Chhim Kan, Mondulkiri Deputy Governor.

Currently, there are 19 CPAs in Phnom Prich, Srepok and Keo Seima wildlife sanctuaries covering 60,799 ha of forest areas. More than 15,000 members (42 percent women) directly benefit from NTFPs activities. Based on an initial estimation, each of the CPAs can earn up to around US$14,600 per year from NTFPs such as bamboo processing, wild honey collection, hard and liquid resin tapping, wild mushroom, vegetables and fruits.

Source: Agency Kampuchea Press