Cambodian Journalists Alliance Association

Youths Cycle 1,000km To Promote Environmental Protection From Ratanakiri to Kep

Environmental activists get on their bikes as part of a 1,000 kilometer cycling campaign to raise awareness on environmental protection, a photo post on CYN’s Facebook.
Environmental activists get on their bikes as part of a 1,000 kilometer cycling campaign to raise awareness on environmental protection, a photo post on CYN’s Facebook.

Twenty-five youths set off on a 1,000-kilometer cycling campaign in conjunction with World Environment Day on June 5 to raise awareness on the protection of natural resources and prevention of deforestation.

The 20-day cycling campaign, which started on May 6 and ends on May 24, will see the young activists traveling from Ratanakiri province to Kep province to encourage the public to actively participate in environmental protection and climate change initiatives.

The campaigners have carried out activities, such as gatherings with communities, mangrove planting and an environmental forum in Phnom Penh. A public forum will be conducted at Freedom Park with campaigners riding public buses to create an awareness on the environment for the remaining days till June 5.

Slogans were chanted around five to 10 minutes by the cyclists to alert the public to protect natural resources as they arrived in urban areas of communes in Ratanakiri province. They also visited a local community at Stung Teng province’s Sesan district who have been affected by the hydroelectric dam. 

Two days were spent in the Prey Lang area in Kampong Thom province where they observed continued cutting of trees and forest clearing in protected areas. 

“We are very concerned because there is still continuous aggressive encroachment in Prey Lang [areas],” said Heng Kimhong, president of Cambodian Youth Network (CYN), who is leading the campaign.

He also expressed concern about the daily destruction of Cambodia’s natural resources and other forest offenses. “We saw a report which revealed the destruction of forests by using chemicals to operate [mining] business,” Kimhong added.

He noticed that the authorities are monitoring this year’s cycling campaign with pictures being taken when they reach a location, but the surveillance is not as strict as when they cycled in 2022.

He said the youths have a commitment to protect natural resources, although they face challenges such as financial constraints or when confronted by loggers.

One of the activists, Chan Sarin, 27, from Preah Vihear province, who joined the cycling campaign said deforestation is ongoing at Prey Lang Wildlife Sanctuary, with the authorities allegedly failing in their duty to prevent forest crimes.

“We have seen that authorities have not sufficiently implemented laws following the clearance of forest land. There are still cutting trees in Prey Lang forests,” Sarin said, adding that he hopes the public will join their effort to protect the forests. 

Environmental activists get on their bikes as part of a 1,000 kilometer cycling campaign to raise awareness on environmental protection, a photo post on CYN’s Facebook.

In April, Mongabay reported new data published by the University of Maryland, which was made available via Global Forest Watch, a satellite monitoring platform, showing forest cover loss of up to 121,000 hectares in Cambodia in 2023.

Ministry of Environment spokesperson Khvay Atitya declined to comment specifically on the activists cycling campaign, but said a campaign to plant one million trees per year was announced on October 10, 2023, to increase forest cover.

“Promoting afforestation means planting more trees than logging to increase forest cover to 60% by 2050,” he said.

As of April 2024, the ministry distributed 878,110 seedlings for free to 205,843 farmers, Atitya shared, adding that the ministry will organize an exhibition to promote and distribute seedlings under the theme “Green Sprouts” starting July 10, 2024 in front of the ministry building in Phnom Penh.

In addition, the ministry has laid out significant measures to prevent deforestation and has carried out enforcement by “ending the culture of signing contracts and releasing perpetrators”, strengthening cooperation with military police forces and institutions in preventing the loss of natural resources.

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