PHNOM PENH: The Spokesperson of the Ministry of Environment, Neth Pheaktra, has said that Cambodia no longer sees large-scale deforestation happening in the country as the Ministry has worked to strengthen the local economy and provide alternative options for people to make a living, and local community officials, in cooperation with non-governmental organizations, have aided in stopping these crimes.
Speaking at the press conference to summarize the Ministry's work results in 2022 and set the work direction for 2023 on Monday, 31 October, Spokesperson Neth Pheaktra said, "We recognize that there still are natural resource crimes... but large-scale crimes no longer exist, they are only small-scale crimes."
The Spokesperson added that the work to eliminate large-scale forest crime was bolstered by efficient law enforcement and a strengthening of the local economy, providing new options for the people. Some continue to cut down trees in forests at a small-scale in order to meet their daily needs and fill their stomachs.
“But we can also ask why this small-scale deforestation is a crime,” he said. “[It is a matter of filling stomachs], a need in one's daily life."
He said that due to the Ministry's efforts to provide new options, occupations, and income to the people, Cambodia has been able to become recognized, on an international stage, as a country that has been successful in natural resource conservation and countering climate change.
However, the Spokesperson added that while the results are not yet perfect, Cambodia has seen many improvements and the Ministry will continue working toward strengthening the role of officials and local communities, and cooperating with NGOs who do work in conservation and other development partners, so that Cambodia can have more and more sufficient resources.