Provinces to stop unauthorised activities in protected forest areas to avert fire outbreaks

17 January 2022

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CAMBODIA – All relevant authorities in the provinces including sub-national administrations, provincial administrations, the Department of Environment, relevant authorities and stakeholders have been told to take all proactive measures to avert land encroachment activities on state lands and forests.

They have also been told to be on high alert and stop all unauthorised land clearing and burning activities in the flooded forests, especially in the protected areas and biodiversity conservation sites to prevent forest fires due to the onset of the hot season until May.

Environment Ministry spokesman Neth Pheaktra said yesterday that they are very concerned over the outbreak of forest fires in the Kingdom, especially from now until May, with high incidences of hot spots and fire outbreaks reported, sometimes between 4,000 to 5,000 nationwide a day.

“Although handling and managing forest fires can be a challenge, it is not as serious as in some countries. It has its advantages and disadvantages too,” he said, adding that, sometimes fire spreads due to shifting cultivation so as to grow new crops or trees.

It is understood that people set fire, just before the rainy season, in open land close to forests to promote grass growth during rain to feed animals, especially cattle.

Pheaktra said although there are some benefits, people must cooperate with the authorities concerned to prevent outbreaks of fires
in the forest and flooded forest.

He added that deforestation, clearing cum burning activities in the forest and flooded forests can trigger outbreaks of fires which can spread rapidly and cause untold environmental damage and danger to wildlife animals during the dry season.

Pheaktra said the relevant authorities should swing into immediate action if there is an outbreak of forest fires by roping in all those involved in putting out the fires, including seeking the help of the community people and armed forces, as not to go to the extend of declaring an emergency.

“It is also important for the relevant authorities to educate people on the dangers of setting fire in the forest and flooded forest or even cooking or burning dry grass near the forest,” he added.

He said public participation and cooperation are very crucial in the prevention of forest fires in the 72 protected areas totaling more than 7.2 million hectares of land nationwide.

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