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Kratie logging crackdown nets 11

Eleven people have been arrested in a crackdown this week on illegal logging in Kratie province’s Snuol district, military police officials said Tuesday.

National Military Police spokesman Kheng Tito said Tuesday that about 100 military police began a crackdown on Sunday on loggers and smugglers throughout Cambodia’s northeastern provinces.

“Deforestation and illegal logging in protected forests are concerns for the government and all Cambodian people,” Kheng Tito said, noting that deforestation had markedly increased in the Kingdom’s northeastern provinces in recent years.

“We will continue to conduct investigations that will lead to crackdowns on illegal logging and deforestation across the country, not just in Kratie province.”

Kheng Tito said military police officials in Snuol had been preparing complaints against the 11 arrested and would forward them on to the Forestry Administration.

A staff member of a local NGO, who asked not to be named, said logging in the district had become an increasingly severe problem since 2007.

“The private companies cut logs for export to Vietnam and grab the land for cassava farms, and in the process, trees inside the protected forest are almost completely destroyed,” she said, estimating that roughly 7,500 hectares of protected forest in Snuol are under threat.

According to the Forestry’s Administration’s 2010 report, released on January 13, monitoring forestry crime has been a continual challenge.

“The demarcation of protected forests has remained difficult and there have been disputes with criminals who have destroyed the demarcation poles,” the report said.

The FA reported that 82 Cambodians are now awaiting trial in connection with logging offences.

In Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Tuesday, a man was fined US$16,527 for transporting 68 pieces of illegally felled wood from Stung Treng province to Phnom Penh.

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