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Cambodia | New roads open up protected lands in Cardamom Mountains to illegal logging, development

Rising across remote stretches of southeast Cambodia, the Cardamom Mountains harbor dense tropical rainforest, much of it native growth carpeting the range’s wet slopes. Due to its remoteness, the vast protected area has historically seen relatively little human activity, which helped safeguard crucial tracts of wilderness and protected hundreds of rare species.

However, the Cardamoms’ status as a vital haven for wildlife is increasingly coming under threat from deforestation, land grabs, and infrastructure projects, and satellite data show an uptick in forest loss across the region in 2020 – including in protected areas. Sources say this increased clearance may be spurred by government-encouraged land grabs aimed at increasing voter confidence in the current administration of Prime Minister Hun Sen ahead of national elections in 2022.

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