Hundreds of people from 10 villages in Svay Rieng province’s Krasaing commune claim that Mittapheap Rubber Tree Company has been clearing parts of their community-owned forest illegally for more than a year.
On Tuesday, residents involved in the land dispute took matters into their own hands.
About 200 of them descended on a bulldozer as it was busy tearing up a cassava farm, according to a village representative.
After the driver fled, one villager with bulldozer-navigating skills piloted it to the Forestry Administration, where it was handed over to officials.
“We brought the confiscated machinery to the forest administration district governor and commune chief, but they did not accept the evidence,” village representative Bou Samuth said.
In 2011, Mittapheap Rubber Tree Company received a 1,230-hectare economic land concession from the provincial governor to grow rubber trees in the forest claimed by the Krasaing commune villagers.
The villagers guarded the bulldozer through the night, but as villager Chab Sophat conceded, they realised the plan was ultimately unsustainable.
“We could not sleep and guard [at the same time], so we wanted the machinery owner to make an agreement to stop clearing the community forest – we will allow them to go back.”
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