Large trees within the Royal Academy of Cambodia’s (RAC) Techo Sen Russey Treb Park in Preah Vihear province are being felled and forest has been cleared for illegal use as agricultural land, according to RAC president Sok Touch, who oversees the park.

Touch said that on February 26, he and his team were patrolling the park when they discovered three new areas of encroachment, totaling about 5ha.

“It was apparent that chainsaws and bulldozers had been used to clear the land,” he said, adding that most of the trees that had been felled were rosewood trees, typically two to three times the size of a human.

He warned that strict law enforcement would follow the discovery.

“If you steal logs and destroy and clear the forest here, how can our group conserve it for future generations? From now on, we will confiscate any equipment we find, and arrest anyone who commits these offences.

He said that for the past two years, he and his group had been educating villagers about the benefits of preserving the natural resources in the park. He called for the protection and conservation of forests and wildlife in the park for the benefit of future generations.

The Techo Sen Russey Treb Park was established by a royal decree dated April 17, 2014. With a total area of 11,435ha, it is focused on forest conservation and cultural preservation. Currently, about 40 families live in the park.