A team from the Ministry of Environment and the Department of Environment of Koh Kong Province is studying the Cambodia Sustainable Landscape and Ecotourism Project (CSLEP) in the Central Cardamom Mountains National Park in Thma Bang District to gather information to determine the parameters needed to designate a cultural and national site. heritage area for the preservation of the culture of the indigenous Chong people.
Department director Hun Marady said on May 1 that the team was collecting data on the location of villages and settlements of the indigenous Chong people in the national park and discovering their shrines and other important places that should officially belong to their community.
“Now we are doing research and the results have not yet been published,” he said.
Sopha Sokun Narung, head of national focal point for indigenous peoples for CSLEP, said the study aimed to consult and collect data to determine and map cultural heritage and nature conservation areas for the community.
He said this was done to promote Chong people’s participation in the process of organizing and implementing project activities, especially in seeking opportunities to increase revenue from tourism services in the region.
“This study was conducted in response to a need for the Chong to participate in the preservation of their cultural traditions and customs. Their natural cultural heritage conservation areas will include places of spiritual significance, forest lands, shrines, archaeological sites and burial grounds,” he said.
He added that the CSLEP working group on social security and indigenous peoples, in collaboration with the Department of Heritage Areas under the Ministry’s Directorate General of Local Communities, held a consultation meeting from April 25 to 27. to collect data and determine which places should be included in order to produce a map of Chong natural and cultural heritage conservation areas.
The ministry said the studies were aimed at ensuring the social security of indigenous peoples, especially to avoid any negative impact on the Chong community associated with the delineation and division of management areas and other CSLEP planning activities.
The meeting was attended by 40 people from relevant departments of the ministry and the provincial environment department as well as the national park rangers and Thma Donpov commune council, as well as Chong representatives from Prek Svay and Koh villages in the commune.
As a preliminary conclusion, the meeting determined that there were three natural cultural heritage conservation areas in Thma Donpov commune – Prey Areak Anlong Samram, Prey Areak Koh Neakta and Prey Areak Neakta Preah Chao – covering 303 ha, in addition of two burial sites covering 4 ha.
According to the ministry, there are 24 ethnic groups of indigenous people in Cambodia with their own respective cultures, customs, traditions, beliefs and languages. Most of them live in rural areas and engage in rice farming, animal husbandry, fishing and harvesting forest products for a living.