Rangers found and dismantled 25 illegal charcoal kilns in Koh Kong province’s Southern Cardamom Protected Forest last week.
Forestry Administration staff, military police and the NGO Wildlife Alliance discovered the unattended kilns during a routine patrol in Koh Kong district on Tuesday.
Conservationists say that burning wood in protected areas contributes to the destruction of Cambodia’s forest preserves.
“It’s become a lucrative business, but it is destroying the forest,” said one of the rangers, who declined to give his name.
According to Kong Putheara, a forestry official in the Southern Cardamom Protected Forest, villagers assemble kilns inside the forest, load them with wood and let them smoulder for a few weeks before coming back for the charcoal. They then sell it to brokers.
“If we see them, we need to arrest and educate them, because they log trees in the rainforest, not on their farmland,” he said. “They can do it if the trees are not from the protected area.”
Forestry officials could not say how many other kilns they had destroyed in the area in recent weeks.
The patrol also extinguished forest fires that were starting to spread in three areas in Trapaing Roung commune.
In addition, rangers destroyed 100 snare traps in the same area on April 10, as well as seizing some illegal fishing equipment in Sre Ambel district.