Activists in Prey Lang forest yesterday seized chainsaws and illegally felled timber from a group of loggers as they continued to “ordain” the woodland’s largest trees in an effort to stop further offences.
One of the activists, Hoeun Sopheap, said 21 members of the Prey Lang Community Network joined the two-day patrol, which resulted in the seizure of 4 cubic metres of timber and three chainsaws from four loggers in Kampong Thom province’s Sandan district.
“We could not arrest the four loggers, because they managed to escape. We seized only the chainsaws and timber and we handed those things to the Sandan district Forestry Administration office already,” he said.
Sopheap added that despite regular patrols, forest crimes in the area remain common.
Between January and early May, he said, the activists seized about 20 chainsaws and 50 cubic metres of luxury timber.
Another member of the network, Chum Khin, said the group was enlisting monks to ordain the forest’s largest trees, adorning them in Buddhist robes.
“We ordain the huge trees that are left . . . in order to protect them from logging. After the ordination, they dare not to log,” he said.
According to Khin, since 2013, more than 100 trees have been so ordained.
But Khin Vannak, deputy chief of Sandan’s Forestry Administration, said that while “forest offences still exist, it is not in a big way”.
“Most are caused by the local people who log to build houses and pagodas,” he said.