The fight for Areng Valley goes on

A monk has draped a tree trunk with orange cloth and is marking its location on a map. The monks bless, mark and list the ancient trees for their protection. (© Mother Nature)
110,114 supporters

End of campaign: Oct 14, 2015

For the past two years, the people of Areng Valley in Cambodia have struggled to protect their home against a planned dam. While their staunch opposition led Prime Minister Hun Sen to postpone the final decision until 2018, feasibility studies for the project are continuing. Please lend your voice to the defenders of the forest.

Call to action

To: Powerchina Chairman Fan Jixiang, Beijing, China

Call on Powerchina to scrap its destructive hydropower project in Areng Valley in southwestern Cambodia.

Read letter

Areng Valley, a remote region in southwestern Cambodia, is rich in rare species such as the Siamese crocodile, forest elephant and clouded leopard. Damming the Areng river would submerge 20,000 hectares of rainforest and drive 1,500 indigenous Jong people from the land that their families have called home for centuries.

The protests of the Jong – supported by the NGO Mother Nature, a network of Buddhist monks and youth groups from the capital Phnom Penh – have already prompted two Chinese hydropower companies to throw in the towel. For the past year, roadblocks set up by the activists have kept construction machinery and workers of Sinohydro – a subsidiary of Powerchina and the third company hoping to realize the project – out of the valley.

Prime Minister Hun Sen is facing increasing pressure at home and abroad. By postponing the dam, he clearly wants to take the wind out of the popular opposition’s sails.

In standing up for their home, the people of Areng Valley face harassment and arrests by the police and security forces. On February 23, 2015 – one day before Hun Sen announced the decision to postpone the dam – Alex Gonzalez Davidson, a Spanish national and co-founder of Mother Nature, was arrested and deported.

Meanwhile, local officials are moving ahead with their feasibility studies in the valley. Mother Nature co-founder Sun Mala notes that the studies are damaging the region’s fragile ecosystem: “We’re going to keep raising our voices and blockading the valley until the dam has been stopped for good.”

The activists want to deliver our petition to Sinohydro and Chinapower this summer – please sign it if you haven’t already done so and share it far and wide. We are also collecting donations to support conservation efforts in Areng Valley.

Back­ground

Please visit the website of our Cambodian partner Mother Nature for information on their work in Areng Valley, which includes an ecotourism project in cooperation with the valley's indigenous Jong people.

Further information

summary of the environmental impact analysis of the proposed dam project

IUCN Red List species: Golden Dragon FishClouded LeopardSiamese Crocodile

The Phnom Penh Post: Standoff, arrests in Areng

Samaki Kohn Khmer: Save the Areng Valley

 
 

Letter

To: Powerchina Chairman Fan Jixiang, Beijing, China

Dear Mr. Fan,

Your company, Sinohydro Resources, is planning to build the Cheay Areng Dam hydroelectric project in the Cardamom Mountains in southwestern Cambodia. This will involve damming the Areng River, submerging 20,000 hectares of rainforest, and evicting more than 1,500 indigenous people from their ancestral land.

Half of the resulting reservoir would flood the Central Cardamom Protected Forest, a nature reserve. You are no doubt aware that the Areng Valley is one of the most biodiverse regions in Southeast Asia – a habitat for many rare and endangered plants and animals. They include some of the last remaining Asian elephants, Siamese crocodiles, clouded leopards, dragon fish and white-winged ducks.

The Central Cardamom Protected Forest's lack of suitability for hydropower has already led two other companies to abandon their plans to build the project. In February 2014, China Guodian Corporation withdrew from the project in the face of great public pressure, also citing the project’s “lack of economic viability”. While the construction and environmental costs of the hydroelectric plant would be very high, the planned output would amount to a mere 108 megawatts. In 2011, another company, China Southern Power Grid, pulled out of the project after evaluating the dam's feasibility study, stating that they were a responsible company and had concerns over the dam’s excessive environmental impact.

On Powerchina’s website, you emphasize that harmony among human beings and with nature is at the heart of your business philosophy, and that you strive to create synergy between business growth and human development.

As a company that has committed to uphold the World Bank’s safeguard policies, you should be aware that the Cheay Areng Dam would violate policies prohibiting projects involving significant losses to protected habitats. Furthermore, such projects require the free, prior, and informed consent of the area’s indigenous people before building commences. Such consent has not been given.

Given the number of petitions, letters and actions taken over the past eight years by the residents of the Areng Valley, the people of Cambodia and international environmentalists, it is evident that people from around the world reject this dam, as it would destroy a unique natural treasure forever.

We therefore respectfully note that your company's mission statement leaves you only one possible course of action: to abandon the dam project in Areng Valley and contribute to the preservation of the rainforest.

Sincerely,

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