Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Activist ban ‘spurs forest crimes’



Activist ban ‘spurs forest crimes’

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Activist Heng Sros said that during the ban, logging and transportation of timber such as Beng, Koki, Sokrom, and other types of luxury wood were moved by hundreds of trailers every day. HENG SROS VIA FACEBOOK

Activist ban ‘spurs forest crimes’

While Ministry of Environment officials claim they and relevant departments implement forest protection and conservation measures responsibly, forest protection activists have expressed frustration over their inability to participate in patrols where illegal logging took place.

The activists complained they are barred from forest protection efforts and are being obstructed from carrying out patrols to protect illegal activity.

More than 60 monks, activists, community associations and civil society organisations issued a joint statement on Tuesday stating a ban on forest patrols provided the opportunity for criminals and especially companies, to log and transport timber from protected areas.

The activists are targeting two companies in particular – Think Biotech (Cambodia) Co Ltd, which exports timber through a partner company, Angkor Plywood Co Ltd, according to the statement.

Both companies have continued to operate during the Covid-19 outbreak while forest activists, especially the Prey Lang Community Network (PLCN), have been banned from entering the forest’s core area, activists said.

Activist Heng Sros said on July 20 that during the ban, logging and transportation of timber such as Beng, Koki, Sokrom, and other types of luxury wood were moved by hundreds of trailers every day.

He said Think Biotech had recently adopted a new strategy of no more sawmills, no depots or piles of timbers and no more storage warehouses so as not to leave any evidence of forest crimes.

Instead, activists claim the company’s chief of staff deployed workers to accompany trading partners into the forest to measure the wood in the forest and immediately transport it abroad.

“The government must allow us to enter the protected area to continue patrolling the forest and investigating forest crimes. This is a sign of cooperation.

“We insist the government close this timber company to clarify a willingness to protect and preserve the forest,” Sros said.

Ministry secretary of state and spokesman Neth Pheaktra said on Tuesday the ministry and relevant authorities continue to implement the rules of protection and conservation of protected areas under its control responsibly and take action on natural resource crimes that have occurred.

“For issues related to issuing a licence to a company, please contact the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. I can’t comment on that,” he said.

Agriculture ministry secretary-general and spokesman Srey Vuthy could not be reached for comment.

Think Biotech representative Lai Heang said on Tuesday that his company did not fell trees as alleged by the activists. Instead, it is planting tens of thousands of cassia and eucalyptus trees to supply the market.

Heang said the company has the right to cut trees it planted and has not used the opportunity to cut other trees. He called the allegations slander against the company.

“Nowadays, we are planting cassia and eucalyptus trees on almost 1,000ha, but we have to stop for a while because there is no rain and they would die. For timber, we fell only small trees on company land. This allegation is completely untrue,” Heang said.

MOST VIEWED

  • Without shoes or a helmet, a young cyclist steals the show

    Pech Theara gripped the curved handlebars of his rusty old bike, planted his bare feet on its pedals and stormed as fast as he could towards the finish line. The odds were against him as the 13-year-old faced off against kids with nicer bikes at

  • Phnom Penh-Sihanoukville expressway on schedule

    The construction of the more than $1.9 billion Phnom Penh-Sihanoukville Expressway has not been delayed despite the Covid-19 pandemic, with more than 26 per cent of the project completed and expected to finish in about two years, according to Ministry of Public Works and Transport secretary of

  • Singapore group seeks $14M in damages from PPSP over ‘breach of contract’

    Singapore-based Asiatic Group (Holdings) Ltd is seeking a minimum of $14.4 million relief from Cambodia Securities Exchange (CSX)-listed Phnom Penh Special Economic Zone Plc (PPSP) for allegedly breaching a power plant joint venture (JV) agreement. Asiatic Group’s wholly-owned Colben System Pte Ltd and 95 per

  • Over 110 garment factories close

    A government official said on November 22 that at least 110 garment factories had closed in the first nine months of the year and left more than 55,000 workers without jobs – but union leaders worry those numbers could be much higher. Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training undersecretary

  • Cambodia lauded for fight against Covid-19

    Cambodia has drawn global accolades for its handling of the Covid-19 pandemic, with a new report finding that the Kingdom has controlled the pandemic better than any other country in Asia. Dr Takeshi Kasai, director of the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) Western Pacific region,

  • More than 540 deported in first nine months

    The Ministry of Interior’s General Department of Immigration (GDI) deported 542 foreigners in the first nine months of this year for various offences. GDI spokesman Keo Vanthan said the deportees were a mix of 40 nationalities, most of them Chinese. Since 2014, he said the GDI had