March 12, 2013
In Cambodia, some 200,000 mostly Indigenous Kuy villagers are desperately trying to prevent the destruction of Prey Lang (“Our Forest"), the last large primary forest of its kind on the Indochina peninsula. Generations of Kuy people have protected the forest, with its sacred areas where spirits dwell and places for gathering fruits, medicinal plants, housing materials, and resin. Their use of forest resources is sustainable, but now their livelihoods and the life of the forest itself are under attack. A dizzying patchwork of concessions to agro-industries threaten the forest, and government officials are turning their cheek to illegal logging, leaving the Kuy people to patrol the forest themselves to find and evict loggers who are literally chopping down their livelihoods.
Recently our partners at the Prey Lang Network reached out to Cambodia youth to hear their perspective on the threats to the forest. Read some of their responses, below.
The following article was originally posted at preylang.com Visit their website to learn more up to date news about the fight to save Prey Lang forest.
Prey Lang has been seriously destroyed by many companies who invest in Cambodia. Many organizations and Cambodians have shown their concern towards this problem. And now lets hear the voices of Cambodia youths with regards to their impression of this complex problem:
Yav Sokhim, a second year student of the Royal University of Phnom Penh said, “Nature is very important to people. Prey Lang, which is one of the biggest forests in the Indochinese Peninsula and covers four Cambodian provinces, is a part of nature so must be essential to the people. The loss of Prey Lang will bring positive and negative impacts. The negative impact will affect people whose everyday life directly depends on Prey Lang. For instance, they will lose their farmland. However, it is very good if companies investing on the forest give the people acceptable compensation, create new jobs for the people who depend on the forest, and use economic land concessions to push for country development. Of course, it impacts me indirectly because the loss of a very big forest will lead to climate change and natural disasters such as floods, droughts, and storms.”
Tep Chansophea, a sophomore at the Royal University of Phnom Penh, said “I personally think that the destruction of Prey Lang is important, not only for those who live there, but it’s also important that other people in the world worry and care about this problem. This is because Prey Lang is the largest evergreen lowland forest in the Indochinese Peninsula and is home to an estimated 200,000 indigenous people. It creates many problems for people such as climate change and global warming because of natural disasters and human activities. These problems need the attention from all people and especially need the government to think and take some action to protect it.”
Hun Keo veasna, a sophomore at the Royal University of Phnom Penh, said “Prey Lang forest concessions in Cambodia should be more transparent, which means that the government should allow the press to know information to be able to inform people about what is happening in Prey Lang. I am just an ordinary person and I get informed by the press. I just hope that there is not censored information about what is going on in Prey Lang. If something wrong is happening, myself and others should be informed. Since Cambodia’s economy greatly relies on agriculture, Prey Lang is a source for the local residents. They live by gaining advantages from the forest. If Prey Lang vanished, people would lose their everyday activities. Their lives would be changed forever. Moreover, the animals in there would be worse affected. They would lose their shelter and the ecology would also change. All in all, the loss of the forest would have bad impact on people, animals, and the weather so everyone must pay more attention to this.”
Hean Socheata, a graduate from Norton University, said “To me, as well as the whole nation, the destruction of Prey Long would be a very big loss. It would negatively impact Cambodian society, either by affecting the environment, or causing natural poverty. I hope that the government will take action to preserve our nature.”
Ros Kanal, a second year student of Chenla University, said “I think bad deforestation in Prey Lang is a serious issue that affects Cambodia. It’s so horrible that everyone knows about the disadvantages of losing the forest, but they are still destroying the forest. Some people only think about their own benefits but never think about the poor, whose lives depend on Prey Lang. I wonder why those people don’t care about the future of Cambodia without this priceless forest. Do they ever think about climate change that makes the world become hotter and hotter? We already know that Cambodia is a developing country that has many poor people and what if natural disasters happen? How can we live in such a bad condition? Last but not least, I want the government to be vigilant about this issue.
Check out Cultural Survival's campaign to protect Prey Lang forest and Take Action:
Cambodia: Help Us Save Prey Lang (“Our Forest”)