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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
Name of conflict:Prey Lang forest movement against deforestation, mining and agro-industries, Cambodia
State or province:Kampong 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:Plantation conflicts (incl. Pulp
Agro-fuels and biomass energy plants
Mineral ore exploration
Logging and non timber extraction
Tailings from mines
Land acquisition conflicts
Specific commodities:Rubber
Iron ore
Project Details and Actors
Project details

The 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)

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Project area:360,000 (forest area)
Level of Investment for the conflictive projectunknown
Type of populationRural
Affected Population:200,000 - 700,000 (from core to surrounding areas)
Start of the conflict:01/01/2000
Company names or state enterprises:Aphiwat 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 organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Prey Lang Communit Network (PLCN)-
Natural Resource Protection Group (NRPG)
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityHIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
Reaction stageIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups mobilizing:Artisanal miners
Indigenous groups or traditional communities
International ejos
Local ejos
Local government/political parties
Social movements
Ethnically/racially discriminated groups
Local scientists/professionals
Religious groups
Fisher people
Forms of mobilization:Artistic and creative actions (eg guerilla theatre, murals)
Community-based participative research (popular epidemiology studies, etc..)
Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of a network/collective action
Development of alternative proposals
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Land occupation
Media based activism/alternative media
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Property damage/arson
Appeals/recourse to economic valuation of the environment
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-economical 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
Conflict outcome / response:Criminalization of activists
Institutional changes
Land demarcation
Court decision (victory for environmental justice)
Negotiated alternative solution
New legislation
Strengthening of participation
Under negotiation
Violent targeting of activists
Fostering a culture of peace
Application of existing regulations
Project cancelled
Proposal and development of alternatives:Apart 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 an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Yes
Briefly explain: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 & Materials
Juridical relevant texts related to the conflict (laws, legislations, EIAs, etc)

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

References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

(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]

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

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

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

Prey Lang on Wikipedia
[click to view]

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

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

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

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]

Meta information
Contributor:A. Scheidel (ICTA-UAB) / arnim.scheidel "at"
Last update18/08/2019
Conflict ID:1768
Legal notice / Aviso legal
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