Cambodia: Our rainforest needs protection

Inabitants of Prey Lang at a protest in Phnom Penh Inhabitants of Prey Lang are demonstrating against the destruction of their forest (© NRPG)
64,907 supporters

End of campaign: May 20, 2014

Cambodia's government is destroying one of the country’s natural treasures. Logging operations, plantations and mining companies are penetrating ever deeper into primeval forests. Residents of the unique Prey Lang lowland rainforest are asking for our support in their fight to have their entire forest recognized as a protected area.

Call to action

To: Mr. Hun Sen, Prime Minister, Cambodia Chan Sarun, Minister, Ministry of Agriculture Forest and Fisheries, Cambodia Suy Sen, Minister, Ministry of Industry, mines and energy, Cambodia Mok Mareth, Minister, Ministry of Environment, Cambodia

Read letter

“Too many forests have already disappeared,” says Vong Phan, a resident of the village of Stung Treng. “We cannot afford to lose another one – especially not one as important as Prey Lang.” The 56-year-old grandmother is expressing the feelings of most residents.

200,000 inhabitants, mainly of the indigenous Kuy people, depend on the Prey Lang forest. “We rely on it for our livelihoods,” says Prum Lom of the village of Spong. “We survive by using and selling the forest’s products: rattan, tree resin, fruit, game and medicinal plants.”

At around 360,000 hectares, Prey Lang is the last major lowland rainforest on the Southeast Asian mainland. Its diverse ecosystems are home to numerous Red List animal and plant species, including elephants, clouded leopards, Siamese crocodiles and pileated gibbons, as well as most of the trees felled there day after day. Its precious wood – rosewood, meranti and balau – is in worldwide demand as garden furniture and flooring materials.

Yet the indigenous peoples of Prey Lang will no longer tolerate brutal expulsion from their lands and the destruction of their livelihoods. Numerous communities have established a network under the auspices of the Natural Resource Protection Group (NRPG). The participants organize petitions and protests, as well as patrols to stop illicit lumberjacks and confiscate chainsaws that frequently belong to local officials.

The military and authorities are deeply implicated in the land grabs and plundering of natural resources. Draft legislation to protect Prey Lang has already been drawn up, but it has yet to be ratified by the government. Please help with your signature.

Back­ground

Chut Wutty, activist and founder of the Prey Lang Network, worked tirelessly to gather evidence and raise awareness of the crimes. In 2012, he was shot by a military policeman after refusing to surrender his pictures of illegal loggers. Together with two journalists, he was documenting forests being cleared in the Cardamom Mountains.

The Cambodian human rights organization LICADHO has documented the acquisition of concessions to a total of 3.9 million hectares of land – more than 22 percent of Cambodia’s total area – by private companies. Increasingly, these concessions are located in protected primary forests, which are being cleared mainly for rubber plantations.

Letter

To: Mr. Hun Sen, Prime Minister, Cambodia Chan Sarun, Minister, Ministry of Agriculture Forest and Fisheries, Cambodia Suy Sen, Minister, Ministry of Industry, mines and energy, Cambodia Mok Mareth, Minister, Ministry of Environment, Cambodia

Please stop the destruction of the Prey Lang forest and support the Prey Lang Network for cooperative, community-based protection and sustainable management.

Prey Lang is the last large primary forest of its kind on the Indochinese peninsula. As one Cambodia’s most important remaining watersheds, it supports the food, water, and livelihoods for hundreds of thousands of people. Prey Lang provides habitat for as many as 50 endangered species and is a powerhouse to fight climate change.

We applaud the initiatives of the Prey Lang Network, representing the forest communities, to save Prey Lang. We support the Network’s call to the Prime Minister Hun Sen and the Cambodian Government to:

• Stop granting economic land concessions and suspend all those already granted in Prey Lang and the surrounding buffer areas;
• Give protected status to Prey Lang and keep and conserve Prey Lang as a heritage for Cambodia; sign the Sub-Decree that declares Prey Long as protected forest
• Recognize the Prey Lang Network to be partners with the government in co-management of the forest.


Again, I respectfully urge you to take action to save Prey Lang Forest and to develop a sustainable management plan, inclusive of the Prey Lang Network and the forest communities.

Sincerely,