In this International Year of the Forest, please help save Cambodia's Prey Lang (pronounced ‘Pray Long’) forest, the last large primary forest of its kind on the Indochinese peninsula. About 200,000 people, mostly indigenous Kuy, live in or around the forest and are dependent on it for their livelihoods and culture.
Attacks on the forest and its peoples are accelerating. Plantation and mining companies are clear-cutting and mining Prey Lang’s community-use forest areas and its ancient forest areas. New roads are ushering in migrants and illegal loggers.
The Prey Lang Community Network, mostly indigenous Kuy communities, is fighting to save Prey Lang. It has repeatedly petitioned the Cambodian government to protect the forest and cooperate with the Network for its sustainable management. Instead, the government is allowing companies, the military, and illegal groups to make a profit by destroying the forest. Most of the wood from Prey Lang is smuggled into China and Vietnam where it is made into furniture and exported worldwide.
At this point, the best hope for saving Prey Lang is if people around the world contact Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen in support of the requests of the local Kuy communities. Let him know that the whole world is watching, and urge him to do everything in his power to protect the Prey Lang forest.
“We Kuy have been here for generations, and the forest did not disappear,” Ru Lark, Network member and elder, said. “We know how to take care of it but now, with new developments, we need the government’s help to protect and manage the forest in a sustainable way.”
Prey Lang has seven distinct ecosystems including a unique primordial swamp forest. Its biodiversity is exceptionally high. As a primary watershed regulating water and sediment flow to the Tonle Sap Basin, and as an important fish spawning area, Prey Lang is vital for Cambodia’s long-term environmental sustainability and for food and water security. Left standing, the Prey Lang forest has among the highest carbon sequestration values in the region, and is a powerhouse for fighting global warming.
Cambodia’s Forest Administration has identified Prey Lang as an important area for conservation, with high potential for carbon-credit financing. But the fact that Prey Lang remains unprotected calls this plan into question.
In early 2011, almost 400 Prey Lang Network activists from around the forest converged on company sites to advocate against their clearing. They maintained a vigil for three days but eventually disbanded when food and water supplies were cut and they were surrounded by hundreds of armed personnel.
But they have not given up. They want, and need, you to join them.
“In our language, Prey Lang means 'our forest',” activist Phai Vun Leang explained. “This forest is for everyone. Prey Lang is YOUR forest, too. You can help save it.”
Contact Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen and urge him to:
- Suspend all logging and mining concessions in the greater Prey Lang area
- Confer Prey Lang with protected status and enforce its protection
- Replant already cleared areas of the forest
- Commit to sustainably managing the forest in cooperation with the Prey Lang Community Network.
Please ‘cc’ your message to the Prime Minister’s Cabinet Ministers, and to EarthAction. See below for a sample letter.
CC -- To Make Your Action More Effective, Copy Your Email to the Addresses Below:
Minister of Environment: H.E. Dr. Mok Mareth
Fax: (855) 23 427844
Minister of Agriculture, Forests, and Fisheries: H.E. Chan Sarun
Fax: (855) 23 217320 / 215982
Minister of Industry, Mines and Energy: H.E. Suy Sem
Fax: (855) 23 428263
Minister of Water Resources & Meteorology: H.E. Lim Kean Hor
Fax: (855) 23 426345
EarthAction Email: PreyLang@earthaction.org
Fax: +1 (413) 256 8871
FOLLOW UP ACTIONS:
In addition to contacting Prime Minister Hun Sen directly (with copies to his Ministers), which is the most effective action you can take, you can also click here to sign a petition to save Prey Lang.
You are also invited on 18 August to join Cambodians and others around the world to “Pray Long for Prey Lang.” This remarkable initiative will include thousands of people from more than 130 communities in Cambodia and every religious tradition and walk of life. In Cambodia, Prey Lang community members will appear as “Avatars” in blue paint. Participating communities will upload photos and videos of their events online. You too can organize a small event to pray for Prey Lang and the people of Cambodia. Your photos and videos can be sent to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Avatar Activist Photograph By: SAMRANG PRING/REUTERS