Prey Lang forest movement against deforestation, mining and agro-industries, Cambodia


“Prey Lang”, meaning “our forest” in local indigenous language, refers to one of the largest primordial forests not only in Cambodia but in the whole Indochinese peninsular.

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Basic Data
NamePrey Lang forest movement against deforestation, mining and agro-industries, Cambodia
ProvinceKampong Thom, Preah Vihear, Kampong Cham, Kratie and Stung Treng Provinces
Accuracy of LocationMEDIUM regional level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Biomass and Land Conflicts (Forests, Agriculture, Fisheries and Livestock Management)
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Land acquisition conflicts
Mineral ore exploration
Tailings from mines
Agro-fuels and biomass energy plants
Plantation conflicts (incl. Pulp
Logging and non timber extraction
Specific CommoditiesLand
Iron ore
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsThe total Prey Lang area, comprised of evergreen low land forests, covers around 360,000 ha. The core area, characterized by primordial forests, mounts up to 100,000ha. (1)

Economic Land Concessions (ELC) granted in the core primordial forest area mounted up to 40,000, comprised of concessions, awarded to 4 different companies, believed to be subsidiaries of a larger firm. The establishment of subsidiary companies is a common strategy to overcome the legal limit of 10,000ha of concession land (3).

Another concessionaire, Vietnamese CRCK - a subsidiary of Vietnam Rubber Group (VRG)(6) - holding a 6,044ha concession, is accused by villagers to be involved in illegal logging activities (3).

Around 250,000 resin trees were estimated to be logged due to concession activities and illegal logging (1).

Around 24 mining concessions have been granted in the area (1).

In total, around 33 companies are currently active in the forest area (5)

The protected area, based on community management, as proposed by the PLCN, would cover 763,100ha (4).

The sub-decree issued to establish a protected forest and biodiversity conservation area covered 615,306ha; and was later on reduced by about 20% (3).
Project Area (in hectares)360,000 (forest area)
Level of Investment (in USD)unknown
Type of PopulationRural
Potential Affected Population200,000 - 700,000 (from core to surrounding areas)
Start Date01/01/2000
Company Names or State EnterprisesAphiwat Kaosou (II) Co Ltd.
Vietnam Rubber Group (VGR) from Vietnam
Aphiwat Kaosou Co Ltd. from Cambodia - rubber, logging
Aphiwat Kaosou (I) Co Ltd. from Cambodia - rubber, logging
PVP International Trading from Cambodia - rubber, logging
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersPrey Lang Communit Network (PLCN)-

Natural Resource Protection Group (NRPG)
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)HIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
When did the mobilization beginIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups MobilizingArtisanal miners
Ethnically/racially discriminated groups
Religious groups
Local ejos
Social movements
Fisher people
Indigenous groups or traditional communities
Local scientists/professionals
International ejos
Local government/political parties
Forms of MobilizationAppeals/recourse to economic valuation of the environment
Development of a network/collective action
Property damage/arson
Public campaigns
Artistic and creative actions (eg guerilla theatre, murals)
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Land occupation
Media based activism/alternative media
Community-based participative research (popular epidemiology studies, etc..)
Street protest/marches
Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of alternative proposals
Official complaint letters and petitions
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Soil contamination, Soil erosion, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity, Mine tailing spills
Potential: Air pollution, Floods (river, coastal, mudflow), Global warming, Noise pollution
Health ImpactsVisible: Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Displacement, Increase in violence and crime, Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Violations of human rights, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Project StatusIn operation
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseApplication of existing regulations
Negotiated alternative solution
New legislation
Project cancelled
Court decision (victory for environmental justice)
Criminalization of activists
Strengthening of participation
Fostering a culture of peace
Under negotiation
Institutional changes
Violent targeting of activists
Land demarcation
Development of AlternativesApart from successfully petitioning the government to cancel the ELCs located in the core area, the main alternative put forward by the PLCN was to establish a protected area, covering 763,100ha, based on community management. The government proceeded in issuing a sub-decree to establish and area of 615,306 ha, which was later on reduced by 20%. The community fears not to be sufficiently involved in the management and decision process, as well as an increase of illegal loggers, if they will not be allowed to make their own patrols.
Do you consider this as a success?Yes
Why? Explain briefly.Apart from ongoing battles between the communities, the companies and the government, as well as ongoing operations of other concessionaires, the Prey Lang network can be considered an environmental justice success. Already in 2002, they have been among various groups to pressure the government to establish a logging moratorium. They could achieve that 4 rubber concessions amounting to 40,000ha in the core primordial area were cancelled. Further, their proposal to establish a protected forest and wildlife conservation areas was taken up by the government, although it is not yet sure in which way governance of the area will proceed. Yet, they Prey Lang movement, who received increasing support by local to international actors, continues to fight for their forest.
Sources and Materials

Sub-Decree on Establishment Of “Prey Lang” Forestry Protected And Biodiversity Conservation Area
[click to view]


(2) USAID 2011 Rapid socio-economic and hydrologic assessment of Prey Lang forest
[click to view]

(4) Pangsapa P. 2015. Environmental justice and civil society – Case studies from Southeast Asia. In Harris and Lang (Eds) Routlege Handbook of Environment and Society in Asia. Routledge, Oxon.
[click to view]

(6) Global Witness 2013 Rubber Barons (report)
[click to view]


Prey Lang on Wikipedia
[click to view]

(1) Website of the Prey Lang Community Network
[click to view]

(3) Phnom Penh Post article on the suspension of ELC concession in Prey Lang
[click to view]

(5) Phnom Penh Post article on companies active in Prey Lang Forest area
[click to view]

Media Links

Video on the Prey Lang forest (apart from a too optimistic part on REDD+ as solution, which will not stop illegal logging, this video gives a good rapid overview).
[click to view]

Other Documents

Popular march in Phnom Penh: Avatars of Prey Lang Source:
[click to view]

Logging in Prey Lang forest Source:
[click to view]

Rubber plantations in Prey Lang forest Source:
[click to view]

Meta Information
ContributorA. Scheidel (ICTA-UAB) / arnim.scheidel "at"
Last update24/02/2015