Press release: Celebrate the forests too – and protect them

November 20, 2015 | Posted in: News

On Wednesday 25 November, at the height of this year’s Water Festival, Sopheap Hoeun and Sopheak Phon, two representatives of the Prey Lang Community Network (PLCN), will travel to Paris to receive the Equator Initiative Prize 2015, which has been awarded to the network by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

The PLCN along with the other winners were chosen because they represent “outstanding local and indigenous initiatives from all over the world that are advancing innovative solutions for people, nature and resilient communities”.

They will receive the prize ($10,000) and participate in workshops and seminars with other grassroots groups from around the world – grassroots groups who, like the PLCN, are also being acknowledged for their activist contribution in the fight to preserve global environmental resources, such as forests, rivers and coastal areas. These resources are important elements not only to protect, but also to improve and increase in order to reduce the negative impacts of global climate changes.

Global change needs local roots
When announcing the winners of the Equator Prize 2015 in the United Nations headquarters in New York, Helen Clark, head of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) took the opportunity to stress the importance of activities at the grassroots level, activities like those of the Prey Lang Community Network, she put it very simply:

”It is at local level, the global action starts”

This sense of local responsibility for a cause that is not only local, but very much global too, is also important to Mr. Sopheap Hoeun, one of the PLCN members travelling to receive the award in Paris:

“We see ourselves not only as representatives of the Prey Lang Community Network, but representatives of every fellow Cambodian. We also see ourselves as representatives of other people who face the same conditions as we do, people who live in and of the forests all over the world. We all fight for the same cause. We want to help ending deforestation and illegal logging for the sake of our livelihood and for the climate”

Collaboration is key to change
The Cambodian Government has recently delivered a set of ambitious goals, called the Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC). These goals demonstrate how the government plans to take part in reaching the global goals that the leaders of the world will hopefully agree upon at the end of this year’s UN climate meeting in Paris – the COP21.

The Cambodian INDC, among other things, focuses on reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 27 % in 2030. It also focuses on forest cover. Not only does the government aim at preserving the current forest cover of 57 % (2010), the goal is actually to increase it and reach 60 % by 2030.

The Prey Lang Community Network welcomes the government’s focus on Cambodia’s forest resources, and it hopes that its members, together with members of others networks and civil society organisations (CSO’s) can take this opportunity to create an even stronger relationship between the different parties – national and sub-national authorities, private companies and civil organisations – in a common collaboration to protect the important forests of Cambodia.

PLCN-member_Sopheap-HoeunMr. Sopheap Hoeun reaches out for an even stronger collaboration between grassroots activist and the Cambodian authorities:

“Prey Lang and all other forests in Cambodia play an important role in achieving Cambodia´s climate goals. PLCN has a long tradition of conducting forest patrols to stop illegal logging and it is our experience that this is a very important tool to prevent further deforestation. We would like to continue offering our voluntary work and assistance to the Cambodian government in order to help them protect the forests and reach our common climate goals. The 10,000USD prize money will be spent on continuing and enhancing this work. I believe that our assistance can be key in achieving the climate goals and especially reaching the goal of 60% forest cover. ”


More information:

For more information please do not hesitate to contact:

Prey Lang Community Network, email:

– Mr. Hoeun Sopheap, phone (0)12 373 441, (Kampong Thom province)
– Mrs. Phork Hong, phone (0)12 948 682, (Preah Vihear province)
– Mr. Chea Sokkeoun, phone (0)88 510 0588, (Stung Treng province)
– Mr. Phai Bunleng, phone (0)97 611 3807 / (0)97 802 8411, (Kratie province)

PLCN – Prey Lang Community Network and

UNDP Equator Initiative Prize 2015: and