Local authorities and Ratanakkiri provincial forestry officials yesterday visited an area in O’Yadav district where community leaders say a Vietnamese company known as “Company 72” has razed an estimated 1,000 hectares of protected forest since 2011.
“Some 1,000 hectares of [community] slash-and-burn farmland was cleared by Company 72 within a period of two years,” Yatung commune chief Rochorm Vin said yesterday, adding that one hectare of Jarai community land in Ten village was bulldozed as recently as the end of last week.
Jarai community chief Sev Hem said five men had been clearing the land between Thursday and Saturday before community members and local authorities intervened.
“One hundred ninety-eight families have been depending on this forest for our livelihoods,” he said.
“The villagers complained to the authorities many times, but nothing happens and Company 72 never stops,” said Chhay Thy, provincial co-ordinator for rights group Adhoc. Companies are not allowed to fell protected forest even if the forest overlaps with land granted to the company, he added.
“When the company does wrong, it is easy [to deal with] because we have law and contracts,” said provincial forestry administration deputy chief Phan Phoeun.
Provincial authorities plan to visit the site today for further investigation.
Company 72, for which no contact information was available, was allegedly caught clearing more than 40 hectares of protected forest in another part of O’Yadav district last week and was summonsed by the Ratanakkiri provincial court to face accusations of illegal logging in February.