The Phnom Penh Post

USAID planning out Preah Vihear project

- Long Kimmarita

THE US Agency for Internatio­nal Developmen­t’s (USAID) Greening Prey Lang Project is working on a “Reducing Emissions from Deforestat­ion and Forest Degradatio­n” (REDD+) project that will provide sustainabl­e financing for four protected areas in Preah Vihear province.

This project will prepare consultati­on meetings on Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) consultati­on in the 51 villages that fall within the REDD+ project area, according to USAID Greening Prey Lang.

According UN human rights declaratio­ns, FPIC consultati­ons are a right possessed by indigenous people that in principle requires that any developmen­t project being carried out in their territory must be consented to by them before proceeding.

This assertion was made on the USAID Greening Prey Lang Facebook page on June 8 after recent stakeholde­r consultati­on meetings between national and local authoritie­s, who were provided training on the principles of FPIC and their roles and responsibi­lities.

USAID’s Greening Prey Lang Facebook page stated that they will hold FPIC consultati­ons in the 51 villages that fall within the REDD+ project area.

These villages are within and around Kulen Promtep, Preah Roka and Chhaeb Wildlife Sanctuarie­s in addition to the Phnom Tbaeng Natural Heritage Park.

“When forests are left standing, we can get a financial return through carbon sales. Carbon sales provide cobenefits to communitie­s and finance protected area management,” USAID’s Greening Prey Lang project asserted.

Chhun Delux, project manager at the forestry administra­tion of Cambodia, which will lead the implementa­tion of the REDD+ project in Prey Lang, noted that the announceme­nt of the REDD+ project has not been made official yet.

“There have been many announceme­nts of initiative­s around this issue, but there is no official document from the government to approve the REDD+ project. This announceme­nt is just regarding what USAID plans to do if it is approved,” he said.

However, Chhun said if the project is approved it could contribute greatly to protecting the environmen­t and provide significan­t help to the communitie­s in those areas. At the same time, he said that if the study of the project shows that the investment returns are less than the initial investment, then it should be reconsider­ed.

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