H aving lived near logging concessions in Kampong Thom and Preah Vihear the last seven years, and having observed how communities relate to the concessionaires, I find the World Bank's latest idea for forest monitoring incredible. Just who are they trying to kid?
Involving local communities may sound catchy and empowering at first glance, but experience to date should illustrate that concerned villagers are at the mercy of the loggers and forestry officials. For example, where are "communities" going to get airplanes to fly over concessions and monitor logging? How are they to know which units are slated to be logged each year, assuming the companies started allowing people to just wander in and observe their operations? The list could go on.
In reality, about all communities will be able to do is report when resin trees are being cut, and count logging trucks as they leave.
Khmers like to say "Don't leave chicken eggs in the care of crows". Apparently, the WB doesn't take this proverb seriously. Either that or someone has fallen to the same temptation that so many in the logging industry do.
- Joe Davis - Phnom Penh