Recently, for Veasna, protecting the Cardamoms has meant he’s had to confront giants. In the year since the station has been open, they’ve confiscated 12 excavators attempting to illegally clear large swathes of pristine rainforest, leaving only bare soil. They’ve also seized 668 vehicles being used to illegally traffic wildlife and timber to neighboring China and Vietnam, as well as 544 chainsaws.
Excavators can destroy 100s of hectares of pristine rainforest over just a few weeks. The timber can then be loaded onto trucks which can then transport it onto neighboring China and Vietnam.
“To have forests is to make sure that the people have a future…If there’s no forest, there’s no water”.
Veasna and his team’s commitment to put a stop to such large scale destruction has put halt to much of the illegal activity in their patrol quadrant – the station has already seen a huge drop in the number of trucks transporting illegal timber.
Protecting the Cardamom Mountains means much more than protecting Asia’s last great rainforests to Veasna. “To have forests is to make sure that the people have a future…If there’s no forest, there’s no water”.
The Cardamoms is the region’s largest rainfall regulator, influencing rainfall patterns on a global scale. The forest itself receives a staggering 3.5 to 4.5m of rainfall annually that supply 22 major waterways, in turn supplying water to hydropower dams that generate an estimated 20% of Cambodia’s electricity.
NASA studies have also proven that the combined deforestation of the tropical forests of the Amazon, Congo Basin, and South East Asia have resulted in a reduction of rainfall in the Northern Hemisphere.