Ten villagers in Preah Vihear province hijacked a bulldozer on Monday in an act of retaliation against a company allegedly responsible for clearing about 200 hectares of community forest in the province’s Rovieng district, an official said.
“The community has stopped this bulldozer from clearing the area three times already,” said Chhuon Doeurn, 44, a chief in Romny commune. Doeurn did not know the company’s name.
According to him, about 200 hectares of rubber trees, corn and soybean plantations have been decimated since last year despite the government demarcating more than 2,000 hectares of community forest in 2011.
Villagers are demanding the unidentified company come forward and sign a contract promising to halt additional clearing before they return the vehicle, Lor Chann, provincial coordinator for rights group Adhoc, said.
In January, more than 200 families filed a complaint with the provincial court against two employees of logging firm Try Pheap who allegedly cleared 15 hectares of community forest late last year before being stopped by villagers.