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Almost 3 tonnes of illegal wood seized

Military police and Forestry Administration officials have arrested a man alleged to have been transporting almost 3 tonnes of endangered rosewood in Pursat province, according to provincial prosecutor Long Cheap.

Cheap said the man, identified by military police as Poch Noeun, 36, was apprehended on Tuesday while travelling along National Road 5 in Pursat’s Bakan district. “They arrested a man with a truck carrying 2,882 kilograms of rosewood,” Cheap said yesterday.

The bust is just the latest in a spate of rosewood seizures across the country in recent weeks, despite repeated government declarations that large-scale logging has been effectively dealt with, and observations from conservationists that the Kingdom’s rosewood stocks are largely depleted.

Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries spokesman Lor Raksmey said Pursat is home to more forestry crime than any of Cambodia’s 24 other provinces. He also called out other provinces through which Prey Lang protected forest runs – Kampong Thom, Kratie, Stung Treng, Ratanakkiri, Preah Vihear and Oddar Meanchey – as being rife with illegal timber transporters.

Environment Ministry spokesman Sao Sopheap noted yesterday that illegal timber transporting was beyond his ministry’s mandate, but he was aware there had been “challenges” in the implementation of the prime minister’s recent Circular Number 5, which handed provincial authorities responsibility for tackling illegal logging.

Marcus Hardtke, who has worked in conservation in Cambodia for almost two decades, said that on a recent trip to areas neighbouring Prey Lang, timber smugglers appeared to remain active. “As soon as the night sets in there’s timber on the road everywhere, not just small trucks either,” he said.

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