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First national round table

24 October 2001

Closing speech

Thoeuk Troeung Vutha, the Under Secretary of State of the Ministry of Environment


Understanding the economic benefits flowing from protected areas is critical to their future conservation and use. If we don't understand those benefits and express them in economic terms, the natural resources they are set up to protect will continue to degrade.

Most important to this current stage of Cambodia's develop is the relationships between protected areas and local communities. Those communities need to be involved in planning and management of protected areas and their surrounding buffers. They need to help in the definition of zones in which certain uses are allowed and of others where protection is required. Local communities must be convinced of the short and long term economic benefits which they will receive from these management regimes.

The various government resource development sectors will also need to be involved in planning for the management of protected areas and surrounding areas. They will need to be helped to better understand the economic benefits to sector development objectives from safeguarding and rehabilitating protected areas. This is a high priority concern to all arms of government. Even the private sector will need to learn to appreciate that investing in protected areas is good for business.

That is why this review of protected areas and their role in development is so important. It is a first step in building a closer working relationship between economic planning, resource management and conservation agencies. It is also a first step in integrating protected areas more effectively into our local and national socio-economic plans.

This is only the first national round table on the review. It will lead to more detailed field studies, the preparation of lessons papers and the drafting of a national report over the next ten months. We want all of you to continue to participate in helping shape the review and its important outputs. There will be other round tables in the months to come. We will be interacting with you through the national protected area network and hoping to receive your feedback on the draft papers.

I believe this meeting has made an excellent start in defining the lessons of the past decade in protected area planning and management and the many development pressures involved. The rich discussion has provided an agenda of key issues which the review needs to focus on.

I thank you all for your hard work. We are just setting out this journey and I am looking forward with pleasure to working with you as the review progresses.