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Charcoal ban fails to stem tree trade

Charcoal ban fails to stem tree trade

Hundreds of trees in Battambang’s Phnom Samkos Wildlife Sanctuary are being illegally logged for use as stakes on pepper plantations, a conservation NGO said yesterday.

“Now the logging of trees for pepper poles is on the increase and is more and more rife,” said Chan Socheat, operational officer for the Maddox Jolie-Pitt Foundation. “We are trying to crack down on it.”

Socheat said that his team halted and impounded three mini-tractors loaded with trees cut down for pepper stakes.

Previously, logs cut in the area were commonly used to make charcoal, which was then illegally shipped across the Thai border, but Socheat said that the charcoal trade declined recently as the stakes trade has surged.

A community member, 55, who spoke on condition of anonymity, accused local environment officials of being complicit in the logging, which has become “remarkably active” in the past two weeks.

Local environmental office head Rong Pheak denied this, insisting that only dead trees were used to make the stakes, and promising to take action if living trees were felled.

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