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Watchgroup discovers illegal logging

Prey Lang forest activists set up camp on a patrol conducted last November. Photograph: supplied

An expedition to expose illegal logging uncovered about 50 hectares of clear-felled forest yesterday that activists from the Prey Lang Community Network have filmed and photographed to lobby government officials, a group representative said.

Chum Yin said more than 60 villagers had travelled to seven villages in three communes of Kampong Thom province’s Sandan district, unimpeded by authorities and police as they documented the alleged forest crimes.

“We stopped at the place about 10 kilometres from the beginning of the jungle because we saw new trees had been cut, but we did not see the wood over there,” he said, adding they did not know which company was to blame, but still collected evidence to send to the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.

“We always spend time and money on the jungle, because we want to protect our trees for the next generations.”

Prey Lang, a roughly 350,000-hectare forest straddling four provinces, is considered the largest low-land contiguous evergreen forest in Southeast Asia.

Firms granted economic land concessions in the forest have been accused of using the leases simply to conduct massive logging operations, and chemicals used in mining operations have been linked to deforestation.

Sandan district governor Sim Vanna said he supported the Prey Lang network but said they should have informed authorities first, adding that if they directed the Forestry Administration to illegal logging sites, it would launch crackdowns immediately.

To contact the reporter on this story: Mom Kunthear



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