PHNOM PENH, April 25 (FN) — The Cambodian government would soon list five new forests with a total of about 950,000 hectares in the country's protected forest areas, officials said on Monday.

Environment Minister Say Samal said the new five protected areas would be Prey Long forest in Kompong Thom, Kratie and Stung Treng provinces; Kravanh Khang Tbong forest in Koh Kong, Pursat and Kompong Speu provinces; Preah Roka forest in Preah Vihear province; Siem Pang Khang Lech forest in Stung Treng province and Veunsai forest in Stung Treng and Ratanakkiri provinces.

"This clearly shows the government's efforts in protecting and preserving forests and biodiversity,"he told a national workshop on the establishment of the five new protected forests.

He said that the government had worked on this plan for two-and-a-half years before deciding to register them as protected forests.

The five forests were previously controlled by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fishery, but were recently handed over to the Ministry of Environment for conservation and environmental protection, he added.

Chay Samith, chief of the General Department of Administration for Nature Conservation and Protection at the Ministry of Environment, said to date, some 23 forests with a total of 5.5 million hectares had been registered as protected areas nationwide.