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One of Cambodia's largest and oldest national parks, Botum Sakor has tragically turned into a shadow of what it once was. From viable populations of tigers, Asian elephants, and other incredible species of large mammals, the majority of this coastal park has been sold as - you guessed right - as so-called 'Economic Land Concessions'. Officially aimed at providing jobs and income to local communities, the way the Phnom Penh regime has handled things here has brought anything but happiness and well-being to the more than 1,000 families who were forcibly evicted of their land to make way for these concessions.
Very few places in the whole of Southeast Asia one can still find pristine, gem-like islands untouched by greedy 'development'. One of these places is the district of Kiri Sakor in Koh Kong province, home to a dozen islands dotted along its still largely-undisturbed coastline. Behind the public's back, the 'government' of Hun Sen has been selling these islands as 'economic land concessions' for up to 99 years, with the aim of turning these into private fiefdoms accessible only to the super rich. We demand that these islands are returned to the state, to be carefully developed for the benefit of all Cambodians, not just a tiny elite.
Much in line with how the Hun Sen dictatorship has managed the extraction of other Cambodian resources such as timber and sand, the mining of gold is becoming more and more of a burden to the nation. As the number of gold mining operations continues to increase, most disguised as 'harmless prospecting', waterways around local communities are being poisoned alarmingly, with allegations of mass poisonings and even deaths not-at-all unusual. To add insult to tragedy, the general public has no clue as to what economic benefits, if any, is the gold mining sector bringing to our impoverished nation.
Our first campaign, and perhaps our most successful so far. Plans by the Phnom Penh government to flood this stunning part of the Cardamom mountains into a reservoir for an unproductive hydro-dam were stopped on its track after years of campaigning. The dam would have obliterated one of Cambodia's most important habitats for several species of wildlife - of which we highlight the extremely rare Siamese crocodile and Dragon Fish - and thrown close to 2,000 indigenous villagers out of their ancestral lands. Despite the dam having been officially cancelled, the threats to this stunning terrain persist.
The mighty Mekong River, one of Asia's most important waterways and vital to millions of Cambodians, is under serious threat. Out-of-control extraction of sand and gravel, mega dams built in China, Laos and now Cambodia that block fish migration and sediments, over fishing, pollution.... the list is sadly endless.
Mother Nature Cambodia is working alongside communities affected by some of these most destructive 'development' projects, with the aim of ensuring that their rights and needs are not trampled upon by the usual greed and blindness of the dictatorship and their private-sector partners.
Mother Nature Cambodia is a grassroots movement fighting to put an end to the systematic destruction of Cambodia's natural heritage by vested interests.
Since we got started in 2012, we have achieved remarkable accomplishments, such as forcing the Cambodian regime to pull back from building a destructive dam in the Cardamom mountains, pressuring the governments of Cambodia and Singapore to discontinue the illicit extraction and trade of huge quantities of reclamation sand, etc.
While the state-sponsored destruction of Cambodia's once-mighty nature proceeds, and repression against those willing to expose the truth and change the system increases, we continue to contribute to the effective protection of our country's natural heritage.
For years, government agencies coordinated the extraction and smuggling of millions of tons of marine sand to several Asian countries, chiefly Singapore, under excuses such as 'estuaries need to be deepened for navigational purposes' or 'dredging reduces flooding and riverbank collapses'. After years of grassroots advocacy - including the arbitrary jailing of three of our activists - and a hard hitting expose on wide-scale corruption issues tied to the sector by our investigators, exports of this kind of sand have stopped. Sadly, out of control dredging of river sand, and silica sand, continue unabated. / READ MORE
21 September 2018
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