Two sanctuaries to be registered as state land

Source: Phnom Penh Post

Asian elephants photographed by a camera trap in Mondulkiri’s Phnom Prich Wildlife Sanctuary in 2009. A new ADB grant is meant to help the government manage the sanctuary. WWF Cambodia

The Ministry of Environment will soon start a pilot programme to register two protected areas – Peam Krasop Wildlife Sanctuary in Koh Kong and Phnom Prich Wildlife Sanctuary in Mondulkiri – as state land in order, the ministry claims, “to completely eliminate all land disputes” in those natural areas.

Ministry of Environment spokesman Sao Sopheap this week said the Asian Development Bank is providing $1.25 million to cover the costs of land registration for the sanctuaries.

“It would cover the team to do the sub-line, the measuring, the demarcation and public consultation workshops,” he said.

The ministry on Monday issued a statement claiming these measures will improve the management of the sanctuaries – which span more than a quarter of a million hectares – and will also “completely eliminate land disputes”.

Sopheap avoided answering direct questions about how exactly land disputes would be eliminated, but said the move “may clear the boundaries of each zone, so we can of course have better management of the protected areas as a whole”, and “we can have a more effective enforcement of the law”.

But Seng Sokheng, coordinator for the Community Peace Building Network, said the issue of land grabs by powerful individuals closely connected to the government continues to leave many victims feeling hopeless.

The protected areas are still “threatened” by the local authorities and businesses who take land for “ownership”, Sokheng said.

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