University of Copenhagen warns illegal logging in Cambodia

Denmark’s University of Copenhagen draws attention to recently published data which shows increased illegal logging within the Prey Lang Wildlife Sanctuary in Cambodia, according to the Cambodian daily the Phnom Penh Post.

In a letter to stakeholders of the Prey Lang Wildlife Sanctuary, the Danish University of Copenhagen provides documentation of the deforestation with a tool by the EU that detects processes of forest degradation by the Prey Lang Community Network (PLCN), the EU Reseach Centre and Global Forest Watch. The University of Copenhagen also documents the deforestation of Prey Lang with the Global Land Analysis and Discovery (Glad) that via satellite pictures of earth detects deforestation.

The letter states that there have been approximately 1.000 Glad alerts – notices for when deforestation is detected – per week in Prey Lang in 2020. The data shows an increase in forest loss in the southern and northern part of Prey Lang, reports Phnom Penh Post.


Concern for illegal logging

The letter penned by the Danish University of Copenhagen shows concern over the cancellation of a Prey Lang Community Network tree blessing ceremony that had been planned for 22-23 February. The cancellation wasn’t decided by the organization itself but by the Cambodian authorites.

“We are concerned that the Prey Lang Community Network (PLCN) tree blessing ceremony was banned due to government-sanctioned illegal logging of protected resin trees in the area,” says the letter.

Along with cancelling the tree blessing ceremony, the PLCN, who is a group decidated to preventing illegal logging and industrial agriculture in the Prey Lang forest, was banned from entering the forest, making it impossible for them to patrol the area and collect data on forest crimes, biodiversity and climate change, reports the letter by the University of Copenhagen.

“PLCN have bravely defended Prey Lang while many of Cambodia’s forest have been plundered as officials either profited from or ignored rampant deforestation,” says the letter.

The Danish University notes in its letter that Cambodia has been ranked as one of the most vulnerable countries due to climate change and called for the stakeholders of Prey Lang to take ‘urgent and meaningful action to stop the illegal logging and investigate the ongoing forest crimes”, reports Phnom Penh Post.

Cambodian spokesman for Ministry of Environment brushes of critique

The spokesman of the Cambodian Ministry of Environment Neth Pheaktra told the Phnom Penh Post that the Cambodian government is dedicated to protecting and conserving natural resources, including the Prey Lang Wildlife Sanctuary.

The spokesman stated that rangers employed by the Ministry are stationed in protected areas and enforces the Law on Protected Areas. The rangers patrol regularly and crack down on forest crimes, hunting, animal snaring and land grabbing, said Neth Pheaktra.

“The Ministry of Environment emphasizes that no perpetrator can escape the law. We recognize that there are small-scale natural resource offences in protected areas, but no large-scale crimes,” said the spokesman of the Cambodian Ministry of Environment to the Phnom Penh Post.

Source: the Phnom Penh Post

About Sofia Flittner

Journalist • ScandAsia Publishing Co., Ltd. • Bangkok, Thailand

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