Poison Ivy (9 June)
People versus the forests. The forests lose. (1 March)
On a recent hike in the Kirirom National Park in Kampong Speu Province, we saw maybe a dozen burned areas like the one pictured here. Several of them were still smoldering unattended even though the conditions are very dry now after the end of the rainy season in October.
A display in the visitor center explained the fires. All of them have been set intentionally. Some are set to destroy the original undergrowth in the wooded area so that wild animals will be encouraged to browse on the new grass that grows up out in the open where they will be easier targets for illegal hunters. Some fires are set to clear land for illegal cultivation. Other fires are set to mark it so that squatters can occupy it and claim it for their own. There is little policing of illegal poaching, burning, land-grabbing, and logging in the parks so the forests are suffering badly.