On 1 February 2011, Cambodia’s prime minister, Hun Sen, awarded two concessions covering a total area of 18,855 hectares for conversion to rubber plantations. No surprises there, then. Hun Sen’s government awards land concessions on an astonishingly regular basis. But these two concessions are perhaps a little more surprising because they are inside a national park.
In an article published this week, the Cambodia Daily reports that the concessions were awarded to a Cambodian casino and mining developer, Oknha Try Pheap. He is involved in a land dispute in Pursat province, in which villagers state that a special economic zone on the Thai border threatens about 1,000 hectares of farmland. Members of the armed forces guard another of Try Pheap’s mines in Stung Treng province. According to Global Witness local communities fear eviction once the company expands operations at the mine.
Virachey National Park covers an area of 333,000 hectares in the northeast of Cambodia, on the border with Laos. It is rich in biodiversity and provides habitat for Asian elephants, sun bears and clouded leopards. It is also home to several groups of indigenous peoples.
Virachey National Park was a focus for a US$5 million World Bank project with the catchy title BPAMP – the Biodiversity and Protected Areas Management Project. (The image above is taken from a World Bank poster, produced under the BPAMP project.)
Read more at: http://www.redd-monitor.org/2011/03/10/can-redd-protect-virachey-national-park-in-cambodia/#more-7756
Global Forest Coalition