Trucks haul away illegally cut timber from a protected forest area in Cambodia in an undated photo. Credit: Amnesty International/Private

‘Rampant’ illegal logging in Cambodia an ‘existential’ threat to Indigenous people — Radio Free Asia

Illegal deforestation and federal government constraints on forest gain access to are undermining the spiritual practices, land rights and livelihoods of one of Cambodias largest Indigenous groups, according to a report by Amnesty International provided Friday.
The report, ” Our Traditions Are Being Destroyed: Illegal Logging, Repression, and Indigenous Peoples Rights Violations in Cambodias Protected Forests,” says prohibited logging has been especially damaging to the Kuy individuals in the Prey Lang and Prey Preah Roka rain forests, which include safeguarded wildlife sanctuaries.
The Prey Lang Forest goes through Kampong Thom, Preah Vihear, Kratie and Stung Treng provinces in northern Cambodia, while Prey Preah Roka remains in Preah Vihear province.
Cambodias rate of deforestation is amongst the worlds fastest, and a survey published in 2020 by U.S. and EU displays revealed that Prey Lang lost more than one football pitch (1.76 acres) of woodlands to prohibited logging every hour of 2019.

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Amnesty interviewed 20 neighborhood activists who work to safeguard the Prey Lang and Prey Preah Roka rain forests between June and October 2021. The bulk of the interviewees said they were Kuy. All of them live in communities in or near the forests.
” The younger generation will never ever get to understand all the essential locations for us in the forests. … There are ancient villages that were once inside the forest, and we still pay our respects to spirits of our ancestors.

There are about 70,300 Kuy individuals in Cambodia who in overall comprise a quarter of the countrys Indigenous individuals, according to information from the Cambodia Indigenous Peoples Association provided in 2019. There are approximately 24 Indigenous groups in the nation.
Lots of, like the Kuy, have a close connection with conventional forested arrive on which their livelihoods and cultural practices are based. They depend primarily on resin from trees for lighting and to sell for boat caulks, varnishes and paints.
Unlawful loggers significantly gather resin trees in the 2 rain forests for wood to make furniture and ceiling beams, undermining the Kuy peoples customs and a crucial economic resource for their neighborhoods, the London-based human rights group states.
” Rampant illegal visiting Cambodia is posing an existential danger to the countrys remaining primary forests, and the Indigenous individuals who depend on them for their livelihoods, their culture and their spiritual practices,” Richard Pearshouse, Amnestys head of crisis and environment, stated in a printed statement.
” Time and time again, government authorities who are supposed to be securing these precious forests are rather benefiting from their destruction by allowing the illegal logging trade to grow.”
Cambodian authorities are lawfully bound to safeguard the rights of Indigenous individuals, including their culture and involvement in the sustainable management and conservation of secured locations.
Amnesty and remote sensing company Space4Good evaluated information that revealed substantial recent logging in the 2 safeguarded areas, with a remote picking up estimation revealing that almost 6,300 hectares (15,600 acres) were deforested in 2021. Amnesty also based the reports findings on open source details, such as reports by civil society company and published news and academic short articles.
Amnesty talked to 20 neighborhood activists who work to protect the Prey Lang and Prey Preah Roka rain forests in between June and October 2021. The bulk of the interviewees stated they were Kuy. All of them reside in neighborhoods in or near the forests.
A single person interviewed said that about 70 percent of resin trees in Prey Preah Roka had actually vanished in the last few years because people from outside the location dropped the trees when individuals were away planting saplings or gathering rice.
” This is when they get taken the most, due to the fact that people know we are busy in our fields which are far from Prey Preah Roka,” stated the activist, who was not related to his real name so as to speak easily. “Sometimes in one day, 30 or 40 resin trees will be cut.”
The activist added that the logging was deteriorating Kuy culture for future generations.
” The younger generation will never ever learn more about all the important places for us in the forests. … There are ancient towns that were when inside the forest, and we still pay our aspects to spirits of our ancestors. Now, these places have actually been damaged because of logging.”
Other community members in Prey Lang said that illegal loggers in some cases offered to purchase resin trees from them and that they felt that they needed to accept whatever payment was offered due to the fact that the loggers would reduce the trees regardless.
Authorities officers and Cambodian Ministry of Environment officials have actually consistently demanded and accepted kickbacks for turning a blind eye to illegal logging. Authorities checkpoints are set up not to deter the practice however to extract money from loggers, Kuy people in both rain forests stated.
” The huge issue is that the authorities, especially the Ministry of Environment, are just interested in collecting money,” an interviewee knowledgeable about the situation in Prey Lang was priced estimate as stating. The person notified the ministrys provincial workplace about the illegal logging and supplied images of it.
” They go to examine it– however they only investigate it to gather [allurements] from the loggers,” the person informed Amnesty.
Cambodias Ministry of Environment has actually limited local neighborhoods and forest activists, from patrolling and securing forests in accordance with the arrangements on the rights and responsibilities of residents, as specified in Cambodias constitution and laws for protecting nature.
” It is important that Indigenous-led neighborhood groups are made it possible for and empowered to engage in forest patrols and other security activities,” Pearshouse said. “Indigenous individuals are commonly recognized as the most effective protectors of their traditional lands, and Cambodias continuous ban on community groups access is a blatant violation of their human rights.”

Trucks carry away unlawfully cut timber from a protected forest location in Cambodia in an undated picture. Credit: Amnesty International/Private

Authorities man a checkpoint for trucks hauling unlawfully cut wood out of a protected forest area in Cambodia in an undated picture. Credit: Amnesty International/Private

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