More than 100 villagers from eight ethnic communities in Mondulkiri province on Friday symbolically burned two chainsaws allegedly used to illegally log community forest before delivering four others they had confiscated to the provincial forestry administration, participants and Adhoc said yesterday.
Burning the saws outside the Bunong ethnic community office in Pech Chreada district was a ceremonial offering to the villagers’ ancestors, said Broy Kveuy, 41, a representative for Pou Chrei commune.
“We killed one pig to pray to our ancestors to look over our forest,” Kveuy said.
The ceremony was also an appeal against future logging, according to Kveuy, based on fears that continued crimes plaguing the community forest would be pinned on villagers.
However, villagers are continually patrolling the forest area, according to Bun Chantha, provincial program assistant for rights group Adhoc, who also participated in the ceremony. According to Chantha, the event was also designed to be a gesture signalling cooperation with forestry officials.
Kep Kot, director of the provincial forestry administration, echoed the need for continued collaboration between forestry officials and the community. “We need communities to work with us to ensure the prevention [of more logging].”