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Illegal logging ‘rampant’ in sanctuary

Provincial military police confiscated three tractors transporting three metres of luxury wood and two circular saws travelling out of Kampong Speu’s protected Phnom Oral Wildlife Sanctuary yesterday.

Chea Hean, director of Natural Resource and Wildlife Preservation Organisation (NRWPO), arrived to investigate illegal logging in the sanctuary on Tuesday.

“They transport timber out of the sanctuary without any crackdowns. If we do not ask for intervention nothing is done,” Hean said yesterday.

In October, anti-logging activists submitted two separate letters to the National Assembly and Royal cabinet, asking for clearer demarcation of national parks in an effort to better combat deforestation.

The submission followed NRWPO’s submission of a 9-page-letter on October 8 to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Cambodia, listing 241 officials it suspects of illegal deforestation.

In a separate case, Hean said he received a copy of a letter from 48 families in Oral district to the Ministry of Environment asking the government to clearly mark protected areas and investigate illegal logging.

An employee at conservation group Fauna and Flora International, unauthorised to speak to the press, was unsurprised that “rampant” illegal logging was under way and crackdowns in the protected area

remain few and far between.
Prime Minister Hun Sen in 2011 awarded more than 17,000 hectares of the protected Phnom Oral Forest to private, unspecified companies for agro-industrial development.

Chhun Chhie Heng, director of the sanctuary, and deputy director Soeng Bunhen could not be reached for comment yesterday.

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