Posted by: ourforest2 | August 19, 2011

Pray Long for Prey Lang

On August 18, at 146 sites around country, Cambodian communities gathered to pray for Prey Lang, as well as other land, forests, and waters around the country, at risk due to unbridled “development.”  In Phnom Penh, more than 200 Prey Lang Network representatives and other activists from around the country, gathered to pray at Preah Ang Dangkor, a renowned shrine in front of the Royal Palace.  The group included fishers, farmers, forest communities, moto-taxi and tuk tuk drivers, and urban community activists representing a range of faiths – Buddhist, animist, and Muslim.   Dressed as “Avatars,” the activists’ prayers called attention to how fast the  country’s most precious resources being bankrupted. They called on others to pray with them for the wisdom of their leaders, more rational development, the conservation of natural resources, and inclusion and respect for the poor who most depend on those resources.

After praying, they dispersed to street corners around the city  to distribute leaflets about Prey Lang to the public.  Although commercial promoters are allowed to freely distribute their flyers along the streets, the activists were quickly stopped by police and local authorities.  The leaflets were confiscated and more than 100 were detained for an hour or more. Some were required to thumbprint agreements to halt their advocacy before they were released.

Events in the other 145 locations appeared to have gone ahead mostly without incident.  The remoteness of communities and the high cost of communication made it difficult to track events during the day.  As reports of those events start coming in, the news will be posted here and on the Prey Lang Facebook page.

You too can be a Prey Lang “Avatar.”   Please join us, the Prey Lang Network and other Cambodian “Avatars” to Pray Long for Prey Lang and for all the peoples, forest, land and natural resources of Cambodia.

To contribute any photos from your own Prey Lang prayer events,  please post them on

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Prey-Lang-Its-Our-Forest-Too/139354142798072

or email to preylangmedia@gmail.com

Posted by: hengrohot | July 13, 2011

Despite Some Efforts, Forests Continue To Dwindle

Photo: AP
Experts say as little as 30 percent of the country’s forest cover remains, while logging continues to be a problem.

“We have all kinds of laws to protect natural resources, but from day to day, the forest is still decreasing.”

Cambodia’s woodlands are seeing continued deforestation, despite a plan by the government to curb illegal logging, environmental groups say.

Authorities say they have a plan to protect the forest, but non-governmental groups say the problem persists, including through an increase in land concessions, and massive illegal logging by the military.

Cambodia has an official strategy to protect the forests over the next 18 years, including land management practices and tighter governmental controls over still exiting forests. Experts say as little as 30 percent of the country’s forest cover remains, while logging continues to be a problem.

George Boden, a deforestation expert for Global Witness, which was ejected from Cambodia in 2005 after detailed reporting on corruption and illegal logging, said the practice has continued.

Officials close to Prime Minister Hun Sen have sold off forests for their own benefit in an ongoing practice, he said. Global Witness reported in 2007 that a kleptocratic elite continued to earn riches by selling off forestland.

However, Than Sarath, a management official at the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, said the government has six programs to protect the forests. Part of that includes putting money that forests earn back into their own protection, he said. There are also plans to sell carbon credits, he said.

However, villagers remain unconvinced.

Svay Poun, 50, a villager in Preah Vihear province’s Roveng district, said he was dubious of government efforts, following a series of concessions in Prey Lang forest, a vast stretch of woodlands that spans four provinces in east and north of the country.

Villagers there say their livelihoods have been threatened by rubber plantation concessions to companies that have not followed regulations to protect the forest.

“A plantation is not the same as a forest,” said villager Chun Yin, who lives in Kampong Thom province. “As we see it, when will the trees grow again? It doesn’t have animals, fruit or vegetables, or growth from the old generations.”

Demand for Cambodia’s high-quality timber comes from China and Vietnam, according to environmental experts.

Chut Vuthy, president of the Natural Resource Conservation Group, said timber must either be transported by road, or shipped. That means it has to cross checkpoints.

For Vietnam, the Doung checkpoint in Kampong Cham province sees up to 12 trucks a day cross with illegal timber, he said, while ships to China leave from ports in Koh Kong and Preah Sihanouk provinces. The Cardamom Mountains remain a main source of such timber, experts said, especially in Pursat province.

Than Sarath said legal logging revenue was part of the national budget, but he declined to confirm the amount.

Along the Thai border, meanwhile, illegal logging has increased since tensions escalated between Thailand and Cambodia over Preah Vihear temple in 2008, villagers say.

A former truck driver, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said he drove trucks for top military officials in the province, as well as members of Hun Sen’s bodyguard unit.

Valuable timber is cut from the forest and stored at military headquarters in the province, he said. No one is allowed to enter the compound because of national security, he said.

Every month, he said, military officers issue orders to lower ranking soldiers to cut trees in the jungle.

“After they cut the trees, they transport them to the military headquarters, about 20 kilometers from Preah Vihear,” he said. From there they are shipped to Kampong Cham and Vietnam, he said.

A villager in Preah Vihear province, who asked not to be named, said the practice continues. He counts four or five trucks a night. Trucks go up carrying soldiers and come down carrying timber covered up with tarpaulin, he said.

“The relevant authorities are afraid to stop those trucks, because they fear losing their positions,” he said.

Chut Vuthy said five to six major smuggling operations are still underway in the country.

“We have all kinds of laws to protect natural resources, but from day to day, the forest is still decreasing,” he said.

http://www.voanews.com/khmer-english/news/environment/Despite-Some-Efforts-Forests-Continue-To-Dwindle-125373233.html

Posted by: hengrohot | July 6, 2011

Concern grows over forest concessions

Concern grows over forest concessions http://www.phnompenhpost.com/index.php/2011070650228/National-news/concern-grows-over-forest-concessions.html

Granting economic land concessions to private companies in the northeastern Cambodia area of Prey Lang means development for the government but to communities depending for generations on the dense forest it means the destruction of their livelihood. Chhoun Long, a 24-year-old farmer in Kampong Thom’s Sanden district, says he’s concerned about the environmental impact of ‘development’ in this rural area. Bak Kimsok, 57, is worried for his village’s survival. Uth Sam On, a deputy governor of the province, said the development will bring jobs to villagers and farmers. He said rubber plantations would begin operation. More than 200,000 people are estimated to live in Prey Lang, which is made up of more than 5,000-square kilometers and includes parts of four provinces: Preah Vihear, Stung Treng, Kratie and Kampong Thom. VOA Khmer’s Say Mony reports from Kampong Thom province.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lo_dzJkiX5c&feature=player_embedded

Posted by: hengrohot | June 6, 2011

Prey Long Forest Dispute (Main Story)

Date of Broadcast: 05 June 2011

 

Prey Long forest spans 3,600 square kilometres and four provinces, but is it big enough to accommodate local communities, rubber plantations and mining concessions?

Prey Long Forest Dispute (Main Story)

Many people living close to the Prey Long forest have protested the clearing of land granted as concessions for agriculture and mineral extraction. How can the interests of these people be balanced with the need to build Cambodia’s economy? Equity Weekly investigates.

Burial Sites (Feature)

Several mysterious ancient burial jars containing skeletal remains thought to be more than 500 years old have been discovered in remote locations in Koh Kong and Pursat. The identity and origin of these remains are unknown, and researchers are looking for clues while striving to preserve the region from development.

POLITICS AND SOCIETY

Environment is a concern around the world. National and World Environmental Day was celebrated last week in front of Botum Vadey Pagoda. Mr. Ouy Bunmy was there and provides a report.

TEASER

Recent flooding in the capital has led many to ask: What happened to the drainage system in the city?

http://www.equitycam.tv/index.php/weeklyshow/896-show-187-prey-long-forest-dispute-a-burial-sites.html

Posted by: hengrohot | June 6, 2011

Prey Long Forest Dispute

Many people living close to the Prey Long forest have protested the clearing of land granted as concessions for agriculture and mineral extraction. How can the interests of these people be balanced with the need to build Cambodia’s economy? Equity Weekly

This week in our show 187 broadcast on 5 – June – 2011

Big Topic     : Prey Long Forest Dispute

Small Topic  : Burial Sites

Broadcast every Sunday after national news (around 8h00 PM) on National Television T.V.K. and rebroadcast on Mondays at Noon.

http://www.equitycam.tv/

Posted by: ourforest2 | June 6, 2011

Watch “We Need This Forest”

In this 5-minute short, We Need This Forest, young Cambodian film-maker, Han Sereywathanak, looks at why Prey Lang is important to everyone. Shot in 2008, it includes beautiful footage of the forest and its people.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UXFDI970Uxk

Tell us why YOU need Prey Lang.  Click on the “What Can You Do to Help” tab above for a guide on how to make and post your own short video about why the forest is important to you, too.

Prey Lang is YOUR forest, too.

Posted by: ourforest2 | June 3, 2011

Photos of Prey Lang’s Avatars

Check out LICADHO’s album of photos from last week’s Prey Lang Network rally in Phnom Penh.

http://www.licadho-cambodia.org/album/view_photo.php?cat=47

Posted by: hengrohot | June 2, 2011

Villagers under surveillance

See this story in the Phnom Penh Post, describing how Prey Lang activists are being monitored by authorities.

http://www.phnompenhpost.com/index.php/2011060249511/National-news/villagers-under-surveillance.html

Posted by: ourforest2 | June 1, 2011

Prey Lang Forum: Save Our Forest!

At least 600 people crowded into Preah Vihear public forum with local authorities yesterday to express concerns about land concessions affecting Prey Lang forest and the surrounding communities. Their dominant message was a call to rescind the concessions and give Prey Lang protected status under a cooperative model that would include communities in the sustainable management of the forest. In a continuation of the “avatar” theme that they used last week in a rally in Phnom Penh, many  participants painted their faces, dressed in green, or wore leaf hats to identify themselves as forest defenders. And they called on the world to stand with them.

The forum tent could not contain the hundreds of Prey Lang community members who came to the forum.

The guest panel included Preah Vihear’s deputy provincial governor and other local officials, parliamentarians from the Sam Raingsey, Human Rights and Norodom Ranariddh parties, and the director of a the National Resources Protection Group (NRPG), a non-profit environmental organization.

Participants raised concerns with deforestation in Prey Lang in both primary forest and the surrounding buffer areas of community use forest, challenging a model of development that they say is depriving them of livelihoods while also destructing an ecosystem vital to Cambodia’s environmental sustainability. They also described human rights violations, questioning the roles and responsibilities of police and military personnel who they claim have intimidated and threatened local communities and activists. They appealed to the Cambodian government to save the forest and called on Cambodian and global citizens to join their cause.

Provincial and local authorities persisted in their own claims that only degraded forest had been cleared and that communities were fairly compensated. This was met by quick refutation of community members who said that they had neither been consulted nor compensated. They used pictures to demonstrate that the denseness of the forest and size of trees being cut.

Prey Lang Network members bring proof of deforestation.

Although the forum was intended to close by noon, it continued well into the afternoon to accommodate the many people who wanted to speak. When the district governor’s closing comments went over-time, the forum moderator cut her short. She abruptly left the meeting, claiming that the organizers were biased against the government.

The forum, which was organized by the Cambodian Center for Human Rights in cooperation with the Prey Lang Network and local NGOs, will be broadcast on eight radio channels, via Radio Free Asia, Radio France Press, and Voice of Democracy programs beginning on June 2.

For news stories on this public forum, click on the links below.

http://www.phnompenhpost.com/index.php/2011060149469/National-news/meeting-focuses-on-prey-lang.html

http://www.phnompenhpost.com/index.php/2011053149447/National-news/cancel-prey-lang-grants-srp.html

http://www.rfa.org/khmer/indepth/preylang_community_calls_for_international_help-05302011205754.html

http://www.phnompenhpost.com/index.php/2011060249511/National-news/villagers-under-surveillance.html

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