F OUR ministries will meet next week to work out measures for sustainable management of forests in Koh Kong and Pursat provinces, which may face exploitation under a memorandum of understanding signed by the government and a Malaysian company three months ago.
Local newspaper Samleng Yuvachun Khmer [Voice of Khmer Youth] reported on Nov 14 that the deal was concluded by Premier Norodom Ranariddh and Malaysia's Sambling Corporation in August.
"The Royal Government signed a deal in a 'rushed manner' with Sambling Corp., allowing the latter to exploit forest on 800,000 hectares of land in Koh Kong and Pursat provinces," said the paper.
An unnamed source at the Council of Ministers said that the memorandum was believed to have been signed by Ranariddh on his visit to Malaysia in August.
As the Post went to press, details of the memorandum could not be confirmed.
Environment Minister Mok Maret confirmed the deal, but said the number of trees to be felled and processed each year had not been determined.
He said the ministries of environment, finance, agriculture and commerce had been told about the memorandum and would plan sustainable forestry management in the Sambling concession.
"We must have a sustainable management of the forest. The forest exploitation must be conducted with firm respect for our country's environment," Maret said.
Ministry officials would meet probably next week to discuss the plans, he said.
"It will not be a problem [for the environment] if the trees are cut under sustainable management. But, if they continue to fall like they are now, the forest will disappear."