- Chasing Deforestation is a series that explores the world’s most threatened forests through satellite data and reporters on the ground.
- Cambodia has one of the highest deforestation rates in the world, and the situation in the Prey Lang Wildlife Sanctuary which spans four provinces is emblematic of the problem.
- Preliminary satellite data from Global Forest Watch indicate that deforestation in Prey Lang in 2023 is set to surpass both 2022 and 2021, with the latter year marking the highest recorded forest loss since the start of the century.
- In the latest episode of Chasing Deforestation, host Romi Castagnino sent Mongabay reporter Gerry Flynn on a mission to find out what’s happening inside the supposedly protected area.
PREY LANG, Cambodia — Cambodia has among the worst rates of forest loss of any nation, and Prey Lang Wildlife Sanctuary is a quintessential case. The protected area has long faced relentless devastation in near-total obscurity, with many observers saying that Prey Lang’s status as a sanctuary exists only on paper.
In this episode of Chasing Deforestation, host Romi Castagnino delves into the heart of the matter, uncovering the dire situation in Prey Lang Wildlife Sanctuary.
Officially spanning 431,683 hectares (1.07 million acres) across four provinces in Cambodia, Prey Lang is not only a refuge for threatened species like the Asian elephant and the Malayan sun bear, but is also home to 80% of the country’s threatened native tree species. Despite its ecological significance, widespread deforestation continues unabated.
Preliminary satellite data from Global Forest Watch, an online forest monitoring initiative, paint a grim picture: They indicate that deforestation in Prey Lang in 2023 is set to surpass both 2022 and 2021, with the latter year marking the highest recorded forest loss since the start of the century.
In a quest for answers, host Romi Castagnino sends Mongabay reporter Gerry Flynn on a mission to uncover the truth on the ground. Gerry engages with various stakeholders, including the CEO of a major logging company that’s allegedly encroaching into the protected area, as well as a leading advocacy group dedicated to safeguarding these precious forests.
So, what exactly is happening within the depths of Prey Lang, and why is mainland Southeast Asia’s largest and last remaining lowland rainforest not receiving the protection it so urgently requires?
Join us on this episode as we unmask the reality of Prey Lang.
More episodes are available on Chasing Deforestation YouTube playlist.
This story is powered by Places to Watch, a Global Forest Watch (GFW) initiative designed to quickly identify concerning forest loss around the world and catalyze further investigation of these areas. Places to Watch draws on a combination of near-real-time deforestation alerts, automated algorithms and field intelligence to identify new areas on a monthly basis. In partnership with Mongabay, GFW is supporting data-driven journalism by providing data and maps generated by Places to Watch. Mongabay maintains complete editorial independence over the stories reported using this data.
Banner image of Gerry Flynn interviewing forest defender San Mala. Image by Andy Ball for Mongabay.
Read Gerald Flynn’s reporting on Prey Lang Wildlife Sanctuary:
Romi Castagnino is Mongabay’s associate digital editor, host and videographer. Find her on Instagram: @romicastagnino.wild.