Community forest monitors in Preah Vihear province who seized more than 20 chainsaws over the course of a recent weeklong patrol of the Preah Roka forest now plan to ask local officials to join them in publicly setting the confiscated equipment ablaze, according to community activists.
Community representative Sin Sang, 50, said some 300 of ethnic Kuy residents from three villages in Brame commune patrolled Preah Roka until Friday, warning off loggers.
“Hundreds of loggers are logging rampantly in the forest; not dozens of them,” she said. “When they saw us, they ran and left the chainsaws.”
The community members also briefly detained about 10 loggers – who are largely employed by about five nearby furniture shops – and the loggers’ mini-tractors, which, unlike the chainsaws, they returned after the suspects thumbprinted documents promising to cease the logging.
Sang said community members will soon invite local forestry and environmental officials to join them in a chainsaw bonfire.
Ith Phumara, head of the Preah Vihear provincial Forestry Administration, could not be reached for comment yesterday. But his deputy, Norng Khemarin, said the community needed to hand over the evidence to the proper authorities.
However, Lut Sang, a staffer with the NGO Ponlok Khmer in Preah Vihear who also observed the forestry crimes, said that when the community had turned over seized property to authorities in the past, the equipment had ended up back in the hands of the loggers.