Prey Lang Data Resource Mapping

June 3, 2013 | Posted in: News

The team involved in the mapping of the Prey Lang area carried out the third phase of the project on May 16-26. The focus was on documenting a number of forest features and characteristics, including the size of the remaining forest, density, deciduous tree areas, resin trees, cleared areas, plantations, private companies active inside Prey Lang, indigenous populations and cultures, numbers of schools, temples, pagodas, churches and sacred areas, ELCs, mining concessions, forest concessions, hydropower dam development projects, wood-related private business, and geographical features such as mountains, hills, lakes, streams, wildlife sanctuaries, etc.


The field work also included visiting with old and new PLCN members in order to build and strengthen the network and record the art and culture of the indigenous people who live in or near Prey Lang. The team conducted interviews about forest legends and history, as well as the struggle to protect the area.


More than 5,000 families in the area depend on Prey Lang for their livelihoods, gathering mushrooms and tree resin, selling wood, and hunting animals in the forest, such as the birds and monitor lizards.


Many of the stakeholders of the greater Prey Lang area (community, local and international NGOs, the Forestry Administration and local authorities) give parts of the forest different names and don’t consider it a part of the larger PL area. NGOs and local communities often try to protect their own community forest but do not extend this protection outside their own forest boundaries. For example, in Reab Roy commune, Prey Lang is called Reab Roy Sen Chey, not Prey Lang. Another section of Prey Lang is called Prey Chang Ha. Some community members told the team that if a part of the forest does not contain large trees from which they can collect resin, that section is not considered part of Prey Lang.


PLCN members reported that in Preah Vihear, 23 furniture artisans are active who pay the Forestry Administration for permission to log in Prey Lang. It is a key driver of deforestation. The mapping team also found that there are five ELCs, two mining concessions, and one agricultural development project of tycoon Dara Rithy in Preah Vihear. This project will reportedly take land, used as a sacred sanctuary, from the Peuk Village community.


The team found a great reluctance in many indigenous people to identify themselves as such in the wake of persecution by the Khmer Rouge and a lack of recognition by subsequent governments. For example, many young people in the Kuy group do not identify themselves as members of this ethnic minority.


The Forestry Administration does not appear to be active within the Prey Lang area. Officials wait outside the forest to arrest illegal loggers, but there are reports that officials take monthly payments from private furniture artisans to log illegally. Many of the artisans are directly supported by high-ranking military officers and police.  In the past, the FA has said that they do not have resources to deploy personnel in Prey Lang.


The team found some good examples of forest management by the forest community supported by the NGO DPA in the Rohal area. Here, a branch of Prey Lang featured clear boundary signs, banners about forest protection, and daily patrols and access roads.


There appears to be no mechanism to follow up or monitor development projects such as forest concessions, mining concessions, or economic land concessions after licenses have been granted. Even after licenses have expired, many companies continue to destroy the forest and develop the former concessions. Or companies act outside of their concession boundaries and there is no supervision from officials.


The PLCN next expects to map roads in Prey Lang.