Cambodia – Awareness campaign to disseminate Forest Law and protect Deforestation

Leak Ratna, Communications Coordinator, LWF Cambodia

Villagers arrived at the community forestry - the land has just been cleared

About 250 villagers residing in Ampil Pram Daeum commune, Bavel district of Battambang province met in front of the commune hall in Feb 2010 to monitor their community forestry (CF) which is being increasingly deforested and grabbed by some people. The purpose of the campaign was to raise the community awareness of the benefit of the CF and prevent illegal loggings and grab of forest land for their own property. The campaign also aimed to raise the community awareness of the Forest Management Law.

Participants included the CF committee and CF members, 5 officers from Forest Administration, a representative from the commune council, a policeman, and 9 LWF field staff members. All participants took a ride on 16 engine carts departing from the commune hall to the CF, located in Buorun village of the commune. Some key articles on the Forest Management Law were read through the loudspeakers to the villagers across the village.

When they arrived at the CF, the Team stopped a tractor and a bulldozer from clearing the forest land and met with 75 families who were illegally occupying parts of the forest land for housing and farming.

Prum Neu, CF Manager, said that he deeply regretted the act of some people who were destroying the CF for their own interests and some others who illegally grabbed the forest land to be their own.

He said that though the CF in the mean time is not yet officially recognized by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fishery (MAFF), the CF members would do their best to protect the remaining forest and replant more trees. He added that the next step is the Committee will call for a meeting with the Forest Administration officers, environment officers, and commune councilors in order to take immediate actions against the offenders. He also planned to submit a proposal to LWF Cambodia seeking for funding support to manage the CF, including the installation of more border markers and signboards. Another urgent task for the Committee was to request the Forest Administration and Provincial Department of Environment to review the registration form and complete the remaining support documents, then submit them to MAFF for approval.

Mr. Hun Vatha, LWF Cambodia’s Gender and Advocacy Liaison Officer, said that LWF is ready to support the work of the Committee in order to motivate and empower the communities to manage and benefit from their natural resources in a sustainable way.

According to the Committee, the CF was established in late 2000 under the initiative of Buorun Village Leader and it was recognized by Battambang Forestry Cantonement in 2005. The CF covers 1,500 hectares. Illegal loggings and land grabbing increases because of lack of support from the local authorities. Now, the forest remains about 50 percent. 500 hectares of the cleared land is being illegally occupied by the outsiders and the powerful persons in the area.

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