The Prey Lang Forest
Cambodia’s Hidden Treasure
Prey Lang is the largest primary lowland dry evergreen forest remaining both in Cambodia and on the Indochinese Peninsular. Once Indochina’s most common landscape, this lowland evergreen forest in north central Cambodia is now endangered. Inclusive of seven distinct ecosystems including unique primordial swamp forest, Prey Lang’s biodiversity values are exceptionally high with more than 20 endangered plant species and as many as 27 endangered animal species. Botanists, doing preliminary studies in Prey Lang, say that there are undoubtedly a large number of as yet unknown and unique species populating the forest as well.
As a primary watershed, regulating water and sediment flow to the Tonle Sap Basin, and as an important spawning area for fish, Prey Lang is vital for Cambodia’s long-term environmental sustainability and people’s food and water security. It is also an important “woodshed.” With among the highest carbon sequestration values in the region, it is a powerhouse for fighting global warming.
Prey Lang is arguably the largest intact area of indigenous land left in Cambodia. Located between the Mekong and Stung Sen Rivers, the forest straddles four provinces (Preah Vihear, Kampong Thom, Kratie, and Stung Treng.)
About 200,000 people, mostly indigenous Kuy (pronounced Koo-ie,) live in 339 villages in six districts surrounding the forest. As many as 350,000 people live in the greater Prey Lang area. As customary forest guardians, the Kuy are not only dependent on Prey Lang for their livelihoods, but their social and spiritual traditions are closely tied to it.
Until very recently, Prey Lang and its border areas supported roughly 3600 square kilometers of forest, including a nearly pristine core area of 80,000 – 100,000 hectares. Now even primary forest is being cleared to make way for plantations and mines. New roads are ushering in migrants and the illegal logging and clearing that inevitably comes with them.
With its unique biodiversity, high carbon values, and watershed properties, Prey Lang’s destruction would contribute to global warming, hasten the extinction of endangered species, and disrupt water and sediment flow into the Tonle Sap basin, affecting food and water security to the Cambodian and Vietnamese communities downstream. This is a loss to all of humankind.
Prey Lang can still be saved. The Prey Lang Community Network continue to advocate for the forest with petitions to the government, demonstrations in the forest, and media conferences. Join your voice with the Prey Lang Community Network in calling for Prey Lang’s conservation and sustainable management.
After all, Prey Lang is YOUR forest too.