About 65,000 hectares of flooded forest around the Tonle Sap Lake have been reclaimed, with 5,000 families relocated, to prevent further encroachment, according to the spokesman for the Ministry of Land Management.
Speaking at a press conference on the “Achievements of the Ministry of Land Management for 5 years”, on Wednesday Secretary of State for the Ministry of Land Management, Seng Lot, said the flooded forest around the Tonle Sap has been reclaimed and trees replanted for spawning grounds.
About 400,000 palm seeds have been buried at the boundary of the flooded forest as part of the deputy prime minister's new project, Lot added.
“Following Samdech Hun Sen's order, headed by the deputy prime minister, we inspected the area around the Tonle Sap border, including area-2 and area-3. So far, the border between area-3 and area-2 of the flooded forest has been revised, and area-3 is considered strictly-restricted and cannot be cultivated,” he said.
“After inspection, we discovered that there are people living in zone 3. Therefore, we relocated zone 3 to zone 2, covering around 13,000 hectares”, Lot added.
“It involved 5,000 families. When we move from zone 3 to zone 2, we give them permission to cultivate. Also, there is a move from zone 2 to zone 1 based on the real inspection of the permanent residents, an area of approximately 12,000 hectares, and we offer ownership to approximately 12,000 families,” he said.
Am Sam Ath, LICADHO Senior Investigating Director, said that local authorities investigates anything only when the head of the Royal Government issues an order.
“The flooded forest around Tonle Sap Lake is a fish sanctuary, all authorities must take an action to maintain and prevent the encroachment of the flooded forest from claiming ownership,” he said.
On November 28, Prime Minister Hun Sen urged immediate action to restore the state forestry land around the Tonle Sap Lake after receiving a report from Royal Academy of Cambodia president Sok Touch. He also accused a former Kampong Chhnang governor of plundering 2,000 hectares.