Between 40 and 80 tonnes of charcoal, made from trees logged inside protected areas of community forests in Battambang’s Samlot district, have been illegally exported to Thailand over the last year, an NGO officer said yesterday.
Chan Socheat, an operational officer of the Maddox Jolie-Pitt Foundation, said that for the past year, trucks have been exporting coal through a checkpoint in Samlot without any interception by local authorities or border officers. Socheat said the truck drivers did not have licenses, but told him they paid authorities who guard the road.
“This really damages much of our natural resources,” he said.
Chheun Chhorn, an ethnic community representative, said Samlot was home to many charcoal kilns – mud huts used to turn wood into coal over several weeks. He explained that locals and migrants have been secretly logging, first stripping the land surrounding, and now within, the Phnom Samkos Wildlife Sanctuary.
“As far as I know, the exportation seems to be conducted illegally. The local authority just allows it to happen,” said Prak Phan, head of Cambodia-Thailand Border Communication at checkpoint 400. However, he emphasised that he had not been at the checkpoint lately, and couldn’t verify this.
Legal exportation requires permission from the forestry administration.
District police chief Ly Buoy said that he was not aware of the issue, while the district governor could not be reached.