Prey Long is a half a million hectare forest and the last remaining lowland evergreen rainforest in mainland South East Asia. Elsewhere this now rare forest type has already been cleared for agriculture. Today in Phnom Penh members of the indigenous tribe the “Kuy” have been protesting against the incredible destruction that can be seen across Prey Long, a forest they have depended upon for hundreds if not thousands of years. In an effort to attract attention to their plight they came up with this Avatar inspired protest.
Prey Long is not only important from a botanical and biodiversity standpoint, it’s also a vital watershed for much of Cambodia. Currently it is not protected by law so illegal loggers are hard at work removing the last remaining luxury woods from the forest. Additionally the government is busy awarding huge economic land concessions for large areas. These concessions include rubber and sugar cane plantations and an iron mine among others. Huge areas have also been cleared to grow cassava, largely for the bio-fuel market. As in many other parts of the world the rush for “eco-friendly” ethanol is only fuelling the destruction of our last remaining rainforests.
The Kuy communities in and around Prey Long have been protesting against this rampant destruction for the past 2 years, while the natural resources they rely upon disappear around them. They are hoping to persuade the Cambodian government to create a protected area in the forest before it is too late. A botanical team from a top European University recently conducted several surveys in Prey Long and postulated that at the current rate of destruction the entire forest would be gone within five years. From my own experiences in Prey Long over the past four years I can assure readers that this no exaggeration.