- March 13, 2023 4:25 PM
- July 30, 2020 8:04 AM
- April 7, 2021 6:10 AM
The authorities must take action to monitor and stop this, he said
PHNOM PENH--Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior Sar Kheng said on March 10 that the country is experiencing terrible loss of forests along the Thai border due to illegal intrusion.
Speaking at an event regarding the work accomplished in Battambang Province in 2021, Kheng recalled the abundance of forests in the province in the past, stressing that the ongoing depletion of the natural resources is due to land encroachment.
In the past, Kheng said, some districts of Battambang Province along the border were filled with thick forests. Even in the 1990s, there still were big forests, but what is left today is trivial, he said.
"The forest used to be [so thick] that it became impossible to see the sky and the sun, but now it is impossible to find tree shade to shelter from the sun,” Kheng noted.
The minister went on to point out that, from Samlot District to areas bordering Koh Kong Province, the forest has been encroached on.
Kheng ordered the authorities to inspect and take action against forest encroachment and deforestation in the district; he added that the authorities should use a helicopter to photograph areas that are being illegally encroached on and occupied.
“Otherwise, natural resources are all gone,” he stressed. “Our children will be cursing us. No matter who the aggressor is, it must be prevented.”
In addition to the loss of forestland, Kheng spoke of the ongoing destruction of hills due to mining in the country. “Even the hills are destroyed,” he said. “That's the reason why we will cause misery in the future.
“Cambodia has been known to be afflicted by ongoing widespread deforestation and also destruction of natural resources,” Kheng said. Amnesty International, which has been critical of the Cambodian government, said in its January 2022 report that, by 2021, more than 6,000 hectares of Cambodia's forests located in the two wildlife sanctuaries—Lang Wildlife Sanctuary and Preah Rokar Wildlife Sanctuary—had been chopped off.
According to the Ministry of Environment, 73 percent of Cambodia's land was covered by forests in 1965 and that the forestland had shrunk to less than 47 percent by 2018.