The Prey Lang Community Network yesterday reported uncovering more than 2,000 cases of forestry crime so far this year in Prey Lang forest, where they say corrupt elites are decimating protected reserves with impunity.
Speaking at a press conference in Phnom Penh, PLCN coordinator Seng Sokheng said the network had confiscated 49 chainsaws so far this year, as they identified 2,145 incidents of forest crime.
“They [the loggers] are backed by powerful people, some of whom are high-ranking officials,” he said. “They are [illegally] trading in timber.”
The PLCN also spoke about a new mobile app brought into use in the forest earlier this year, allowing different teams from the five provincial networks active in the sprawling 3,600-square-kilometre forest to photograph and document individual crimes, which are stored in a central database.
According to PLCN member Heoun Sopheap, the app is now an integral tool in their fight against ecological crime in the area.
“We always use it when we go to patrol the forest,” he said.
Following the press conference, PLCN members went to the official residence of Prime Minister Hun Sen to submit a petition demanding action from authorities.
Director of the Joint Committee of the Prime Minister’s Cabinet, Pal Chandra, received the petition and promised to present it to the premier.