Wildlife sanctuary reclassified for industrial use, puts endangered fishing cats at risk

Illegal logging in the Cardamom Mountain, Koh Kong Province, Cambodia. (Photo/Paul Mason USAID/Cambodia/OGD)

A new government land deal that converts a wildlife sanctuary forest into agro-industrial development threatens to destroy habitat for endangered fishing cats as well as a host of other rare species and hinders a way of life for ethnic minorities in Cambodia.

The Boeung Per Wildlife Sanctuary was established in 2003, covering more than half a million acres of rare forest in Cambodia. The new deal signed by the country’s prime minister would allow agro-industrial development of about 10 percent of the sanctuary.

So far only four of eight companies partnering in the deal have been named, according to the Phnom Penh Post. This is something the CAT in WATER team will be interested to keep an eye out for as it sounds like the Boeung Per Wildlife Sanctuary has already endured run ins with illegal logging. The environmental watchdog group Global Witness reported in 2003 that logging company Colexim had accepted trees from the sanctuary, as well as what I can only describe as a s*@tstorm of corruption that included environmental destruction, schemes against local villages and murder. Click the link to read the full report called Global Witness briefing document – Cambodia : Colexim and Everbright logging companies.

According to the Phnom Penh Post story, Thuk Kroeun Vutha, secretary of state at the Ministry of Environment, said the section of sanctuary included in the land deal is considered “a degraded forest,” and would not weaken the sanctuary.

Get the full story on the land deal with the Phnom Penh Post article Protected forest ‘is finished’.


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