U.S. Embassy Phnom Penh, Cambodia Statement on Prey Lang Wildlife Sanctuary

The United States is deeply concerned about continued deforestation in Cambodia’s protected areas. We support cooperation among communities, civil society, and the Cambodian government to ensure that the rich biodiversity of Prey Lang Wildlife Sanctuary and the natural heritage of the Kingdom is preserved.

Forest loss in Prey Lang, and throughout the country, is linked to several factors, including weak law enforcement and opaque governance systems.  To address these challenges, national, provincial, and local government stakeholders across all relevant ministries must be aligned in their efforts to conserve protected areas such as Prey Lang.  The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) works to address these challenges by improving technical capacity at all levels, promoting transparency and accountability, supporting active community engagement, and providing alternative livelihoods.  Through USAID’s Greening Prey Lang (GPL) project, we assist local communities, including members of the Prey Lang Community Network (PLCN), in joint patrol efforts in Prey Lang with the Ministry of Environment (MOE). The majority of GPL’s activities directly benefit communities and non-governmental organizations in conservation efforts and no funding is provided through government systems.  We continue to work directly with the PLCN and the MOE to support a dialogue so that they can work together on the shared goal of protecting Prey Lang.

The U.S. Ambassador, as well as the Embassy’s USAID Director, has met with the Minister of Environment and his senior staff to discuss deforestation and the restriction of Cambodians from entering protected areas to monitor forest activities. USAID has provided the MOE information on multiple occasions documenting illegal logging occurring in the Prey Lang Wildlife Sanctuary, resulting in investigations by relevant government authorities.  The U.S. government will continue to urge that action be taken to cease all illegal logging and preserve the incredible biodiversity of Prey Lang and other sanctuaries.

As we celebrate World Wildlife Day this month, we are reminded that good governance is a necessary component of protecting our natural resources.  Respecting freedoms of speech and peaceful protest are hallmarks of successful democracies, and we believe these rights should protect Cambodians who are trying to preserve the Kingdom’s fragile natural resources.