Prey Lang Community Network (PLCN) has just won the Global Landscapes Forum’s prestigious 2020 Landscape Hero title – an award that seeks to celebrate the important work of unsung grassroots activists taking a stand for the landscapes they live in and love. The Cambodian community conservation group was selected by an expert panel from over 80 inspirational submissions from across the globe.
Cambodia has large tracts of primary tropical rainforest, but it’s disappearing quickly – the country has one of the fastest rates of forest loss in the world. Prey Lang is the last major lowland rainforest on the Southeast Asian mainland, with around 5000 square kilometers of forest cover. It’s located west of the Mekong River in the northern part of Cambodia, and is home to around 250,000 people, plus numerous threatened animal and plant species. Illegal logging and industrial agriculture pose major threats to the forest, which has already lost significant tree cover over the past 15 years.
There are 340 villages in and around Prey Lang, and most inhabitants identify as indigenous Kuy. The Kuy are an ethnic group based in northern Thailand, southern Laos and northern Cambodia, who have their own spoken language. Prey Lang means “our forest” in the Kuy language. The forest is an important part of Kuy culture and spiritual life, and also serves as a vital resource for Kuy families’ livelihoods. PLCN is a network of local community members working to save the Prey Lang forest from illegal logging and industrial agriculture. The network’s 400 active, voluntary members patrol the forest, record illegal logging and forest conversion using smartphone technology, and report their findings to national policy makers and the Cambodian public in reports and on social media. Despite challenging circumstances and government pushback, the PLCN stays resolute in its important work to keep the forest safe.
We warmly congratulate PLCN on their well-earned receipt of the 2020 Landscape Hero title!