Alleged gov’t-linked land grabs threaten Cambodia’s Cardamom Mountains

  • The Cardamom Mountains sit off the Gulf of Thailand in southern Cambodia and provide important habitat for a multitude of plant and animal species, many of them already threatened with extinction.
  • Due to Cardamoms’ remoteness, they had largely been spared the human encroachment that has razed much of the rainforest across the country – until infrastructure development in 2020 opened up the area to loggers, poachers, and others seeking to exploit the region’s forests.
  • Satellite data show deforestation is continuing to surge in the Cardamoms despite most of the range being formally demarcated as protected land.
  • Sources familiar with the issues say the Hun Sen government is encouraging land-grabbing in protected areas in a bid to build public support ahead of the 2022 election season, and that Cambodia’s systemic corruption is enabling timber and plantation companies to move in and clear forest.

Rising across remote stretches of southeast Cambodia, the

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