Forest activists have seized at least 25 chainsaws and 53 cubic metres of alleged illegally felled timber in Prey Lang forest since community patrols began on Thursday, members of the activist network have said.
Un Vien, a 43-year-old from Preah Vihear province, said the patrol he was with had confiscated 12 chainsaws and 10 cubic metres of timber, which the group intended to destroy.
“When we checked the [product] code they were the same as ones we’d confiscated before,” he said. “Their owners must have paid money to [the authorities] to get them back.”
“We are not afraid of the authorities; they had agreed to patrol with us but when the time came they were nowhere to be seen.”
Hoeun Sopheap, a Kampong Thom province representative of the network, said that the area had witnessed a spike in forest crimes in the lead up to Khmer New Year, which begins next week, as local officials sought to earn extra “tea money”.
However, Un Buth, Kampong Thom’s Sandan district governor, placed the blame for the apparent uptick in logging on local villagers.
Forestry Administration officials could not be reached.