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Activists tell US to step up forest protection efforts

A man examines logged timber in an area of Prey Lang forest in Preah Vihear province earlier this week. Photo supplied
A man examines logged timber in an area of Prey Lang forest in Preah Vihear province earlier this week. Photo supplied

Activists tell US to step up forest protection efforts

Conservationist Marcus Hardtke yesterday blasted USAID and Winrock for “four years of mismanagement” as the Forest Monitoring Working Group put out a call for “urgent action” from the American bodies.

“They’re not addressing the core problem,” Hardtke said, adding that the two groups were ignoring the corruption that drives illegal logging.

Yesterday’s statement warned that rampant illegal logging in community forests and protected areas of Prey Lang – where Winrock has USAID-funded programs – meant resin trees would be “completely wiped out” by 2017.

The statement appealed for “strong political commitment” to combat complicity by authorities and government officials.

Curtis Handley, of Winrock, said his organisation had done plenty, and “provided equipment and trained patrols to help protect forests”.

But, Hardtke said, “All their workshops and their surveys and their feel-good stuff are not saving a single tree.”

US Embassy spokesman David Josar said that USAID “is committed to protecting and preserving Cambodia’s forests”.

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