Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - ELCs tied to destruction of forests in new report



ELCs tied to destruction of forests in new report

A map showing overlays for land concessions and protected areas in Cambodia in 2013.
A map showing overlays for land concessions and protected areas in Cambodia in 2013. PHOTO SUPPLIED

ELCs tied to destruction of forests in new report

Cambodis's most crucial forests are disappearing at a rate of more than 2,000 square kilometres a year, as agricultural firms continue to harvest timber by illegal means in protected areas and national parks, according to a study from Washington-based Forest Trends.

The report, released yesterday evening, uses satellite imagery to link “the growing number of industrial agricultural development projects to the escalating destruction of Cambodian forests”.

Combining data culled from NASA satellite pictures of 32,053 hotspots during the 2012-13 dry season with the measurement of carbon emissions, Forest Trends determined that companies controlling ELCs were logging some of the country’s oldest and most valuable forests.

Those forests, the report says, fall not only on land designated for plantations – often stripped of trees then left simply abandoned – but in protected areas and national forests as well.

“The fact that permits for economic land concessions are being used as an unlawful vehicle to exhaust the remaining timber resources of the country at such a rapid rate represents a total system failure of the country’s forest protection laws,” Kerstin Canby, director of Forest Trends’ Forest Trade and Finance program, said in a statement.

The report says that in 2013, 2.6 million hectares of land, or 14 per cent of the entire country, was accounted for by economic land concessions (ELCs) – almost four times the amount held by companies in 2004.

However, the report notes that by 2015, this number had dropped to 2.2 million hectares, or about 12 per cent of Cambodia’s land, due in large part to the cancellation of a large land holding in Stung Treng.

Despite the government recognising that timber derived from converting forestland to plantations is Cambodia’s main source of deforestation, the report says the current “patchwork of regulations on the land use planning are spread across numerous, uncoordinated agricultural, forestry and other agencies, and are often seemingly arbitrarily applied by the authorities”.

The report suggests the use of such carbon-trading initiatives as REDD+ to help build monitoring networks that could detect wrongdoing, though REDD programs in the Kingdom and elsewhere have been met with scepticism and been slow to take hold.

Officials at the Ministry of Agriculture were unable to respond to the report’s findings before press time yesterday as they had not yet read the report.

MOST VIEWED

  • Would you like fries with that? US burger chain makes Phnom Penh debut

    California-based The Habit Burger Grill restaurant chain is all set to serve up a delicious array of charbroiled burgers and sides at its newest international location in the centre of Phnom Penh. The Habit is “renowned for its award-winning Charburgers grilled over an open flame,

  • Phnom Penh underpass opens to ease traffic

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has announced a temporary opening of the 488m underpass at the Chaom Chao roundabout in Phnom Penh’s Por Sen Chey district, which was recently completed to connect traffic from National Road 4 to Russian Federation Blvd. The move is to reduce

  • Banteay Meanchey flood victims receive aid

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Wednesday provided aid to more than 10,000 families affected by flooding in Banteay Meanchey province’s Mongkol Borei district and offered his condolences to the 18 victims who drowned in the province over the past week. He said flooding had occured in

  • PM urges caution as Polish man tests positive for Covid

    The Ministry of Health on Wednesday reported that a 47-year-old Polish man tested positive for Covid-19 after arriving in Cambodia on Monday. There are a total of six Covid-19 patients currently in the country, all of whom are being treated at the Khmer-Soviet Friendship Hospital

  • Serving coffee with a side of robots

    The eye-catching glass building surrounded by greenery at the intersection of Streets 371 and 2002 in Phnom Penh’s Sen Sok district is more than just another coffee shop where you can while away a few hours. UrHobby House cafe is filled with robots and characters from

  • Show evidence of Chinese military base, critics told

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Monday said he had had enough of certain countries and opposition groups claiming Cambodia had allowed China to base its military in Cambodia and dared critics to show clear evidence. Hun Sen made the remarks while presiding over a groudbreaking