PHNOM PENH,  Cambodia — More than a month has passed since the Cambodia branch of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) announced it would be ending its assistance to Cambodian government entities through the USAID Greening Prey Lang project and the future of the 431,683-hectare wildlife sanctuary remains shrouded in uncertainty. According to a June 17 statement from the U.S. Embassy in Phnom Penh, USAID’s decision to terminate the Greening Prey Lang project was due to illegal logging operations that have continued with impunity, along with the prevalence of unprosecuted wildlife crimes. “In addition, the [Cambodian] government continues to silence and target local communities and their civil society partners who are justifiably concerned about the loss of their natural resources,” the statement reads. Members of the Prey Lang Community Network — a grassroots community organization dedicated to protecting the forest — say they have been prevented from carrying out their patrols and from gathering evidence of large-scale logging operations that are responsible for the widespread deforestation that has plagued USAID’s credibility in relation to Prey Lang. Activists like Ouch Leng — a Goldman Environment Prize winner — have been detained while campaigning to save Prey Lang’s forests, while at least seven young activists associated with Mother Nature Cambodia have been arrested — and in some cases convicted — on what are largely seen as politically motivated charges of incitement and plotting to overthrow the government as part of Cambodia’s intensified crackdown on environmentalists. Ouch Leng. Image courtesy of the Goldman…This article was originally published on Mongabay Läs mer

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