Search

Search form

Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Villagers protest the cutting, burning of acacia trees in S'ville

Villagers protest the cutting, burning of acacia trees in S'ville

Villagers protest the cutting, burning of acacia trees in S'ville

LOCAL villagers and municipal officials in Sihanoukville have illegally cleared more than 100 hectares of acacia forest in Lek Muoy commune, residents and NGOs in the area said.

The acacia forest was planted as part of a joint effort between the Cambodian and Danish governments to protect local wetlands in Kbal Chhai that constitute the municipality's largest supply of fresh water.

"Authorities charged with protecting this area are doing nothing," said So Song, a Kbal Chhai resident. "They ... don't care that it will affect the availability of our water resources in Sihanoukville."

She said logging on protected land concessions is illegal, and she regrets there has been no reaction from the Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA), which worked jointly with Cambodian officials to protect the area in 2003.

"Some residents have not cut trees, but several businessmen have cleared the land and sold it for as much as US$2,800 for a 10-metre-by-30-metre tract," So Song said.

Bun Narith, a coordinator with the local human rights group Licadho in Sihanoukville, said the forest in Kbal Chhai was part of a land concession made to DANIDA in 2003 for the protection of local wetlands.

"The acacia trees are government property, and they have been cut down and burned," Bun Narith said.

Investigation launched

Doung Socheat, deputy of the provincial Forestry Administration Department, said his officers have started to investigate claims of illegal logging.

"We are trying to protect the area by replanting lost acacia trees during the rainy season, but people continue to harvest them," he said, adding that he has asked for assistance from police in Sihanoukville.

"This is concession land, so anyone trying to sell or buy it is breaking the law," Doung Socheat said.

Say Hak, governor of Sihanoukville Municipality, said he understands the importance of preserving the wetlands.

"If anyone has information that government officials are involved in seizing this protected land, they should write down names and send them to me directly," the governor said.

RECOMMENDED STORIES

  • Breaking: PM says prominent human rights NGO ‘must close’

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has instructed the Interior Ministry to investigate the Cambodian Center for Human Rights (CCHR) and potentially close it “because they follow foreigners”, appearing to link the rights group to the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party's purported “revolution”. The CNRP - the

  • Rainsy and Sokha ‘would already be dead’: PM

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Sunday appeared to suggest he would have assassinated opposition leaders Sam Rainsy and Kem Sokha had he known they were promising to “organise a new government” in the aftermath of the disputed 2013 national elections. In a clip from his speech

  • Massive ceremony at Angkor Wat will show ‘Cambodia not in anarchy’: PM

    Government officials, thousands of monks and Prime Minister Hun Sen himself will hold a massive prayer ceremony at Angkor Wat in early December to highlight the Kingdom’s continuing “peace, independence and political stability”, a spectacle observers said was designed to disguise the deterioration of

  • PM tells workers CNRP is to blame for any sanctions

    In a speech to workers yesterday, Prime Minister Hun Sen pinned the blame for any damage inflicted on Cambodia’s garment industry by potential economic sanctions squarely on the opposition party. “You must remember clearly that if the purchase orders are reduced, it is all