Defender of Cambodia's dwindling forests wins Goldman Prize

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (AP) — A former Cambodian government official who has spent two decades helping villagers fight poaching of precious tropical forests is among this year's winners of the $175,000 Goldman Environmental Prize.

Ouch Leng (ook leng) travels into forests armed only with a camera and a GPS locator, tracking illegal loggers. At times he works undercover by cooking for loggers, hauling cargo on docks or posing as a tourist. Lately his attention has focused on a conflict between villagers and a Chinese company developing a massive resort.

A fellow environmentalist says Leng is among just a few people fighting forest destruction in Cambodia. At least five people who opposed illegal logging have been killed since 2007.

Other winners of the Goldman Prize announced Monday are from Slovakia, Peru, Tanzania, Puerto Rico and Maryland.