04 January 2016

The UN awarded Prey Lang Community Network was celebrated at UCPH for fighting deforestation in Cambodia

"University of Copenhagen and Danmission have had an important role to play in the development of the project and in designing the smart phone app," Ida Theilade said, as she entered the stage as the last speaker Thursday the 10th December, when UCPH celebrated the Prey Lang Community Network (PLCN) for their work, and for recieving the UN Equator Initiative Prize at the COP21.

Fighting deforestation with non-violence and technology

Two representatives from PLCN attended to present their project. PLCN uses patrolling, dialogue, social media and geo-referencing technology via an app developed at UCPH to fight deforestation in a non-violent way in Cambodia. The community consists of people from the indigenous Kuy communities, and is supported by Danmission and University of Copenhagen. The deforestation in Cambodia is often a result of foreign companies’ interests in the natural resources of the forests and the land, and made possible by corruption and a lack of acknowledgement of the local's dependence on the natural resources.

Youth collaborating across boarders

Ida Theilade, senior researcher and coordinator of the project Community monitoring of forest resources in Cambodia, attended the seminar to present how UCPH collaborates with PLCN. Theilade emphasized how UCPH's contribution is dependent on the engagement of PhD fellows and student volounteers: "PhD fellows have taught the local groups from Prey Lang Community Network how to use the app and upload documentation," she said. Theilade said that the project has become a prime example of international collaboration between youth in Cambodia and youth in Denmark.

Building on top of the existing data

The university's research infrastructura has played a role in the continued progress of the project. Theilade explained how the university's already existing database of local forest ressources has been important in the developing and systemization of the monitoring of the biodiversity in Cambodia. The documentation is important for all with an interest in stopping the deforestation.

Common interest in conservation of the forests

The Kuy community is highly dependent on the forest, and their motivation for resistance was initially based on the threat on their livelihood that the deforestation poses. The indigenous people are, due to corruption and limited influence, rarely compensated for the influence of deforestation on their livelihoods. The concern for the livelihood of the ingenious people as well as the effect of massive deforestation on the environment are concerns that PLCN share not only with the participants of the project Community monitoring of forest resources in Cambodia but also with the UN. That is the reason UN awarded the PLCN the UN Equator Initiative Prize. The prize comes with 10.000 dollars, which PLCN will put to good use by further enforcing their non-violent patrolling.

For more information about the research: Community monitoring of forest resources in Cambodia

Story from Department of Food and Resource Economics.