Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Environment ministry works to better identify timber sources

Environment ministry works to better identify timber sources

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Wildlife rangers show a map of the area where the Ministry of Environment plans to establish a patrol station near the junction between three provinces in Prey Lang Wildlife Sanctuary. Photo supplied

Environment ministry works to better identify timber sources

Minister of Environment Say Sam Al said on Monday that his ministry is working with the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries to identify whether transported timber is from legal or illegal sources.

Cambodian Youth Party (CYP) president Pich Sros, who is also a member of the Supreme Consultation and Advisory Council (SCAC), questioned Sam Al at an SCAC meeting about ongoing logging, the granting of economic land concessions (ELCs) to private companies and processing clean water.

In response, Sam Al said the ministry is trying to crack down on forest crimes, but it needed cooperation from the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries to ascertain if the logs are from authorised zones or from illegal areas.

All relevant parties must participate in the prevention of illegal logging, Sam Al said.

He said the government stopped issuing ELCs to private companies in 2010 and, in 2012, reviewed companies that had received ELCs to determine whether they were following the licence’s stipulations.

“If the ministry finds any irregularities, [it] will revoke licences and the companies must face their responsibilities and other legal procedures,” he said.

The ministry is working with companies, Sam Al said, to speed up the establishment of clean water systems before releasing waste liquid into the sea, rivers and lakes.

Laying the blame

However, Sros said government officials are still pointing fingers at each other over the loss of forests.

“I think the [ministry’s] response and [ministries] accusing each other shows there is no clear legal mechanism. I met with the Ministry of Interior’s secretary of state who said it was difficult to prevent [illegal logging]."

“[He said taking action] might violate the authority of the Ministry of Environment, but I asked the [ministry], and it said the Ministry of Agriculture is in charge of [timber] identification and reviewing licences. I said their response was an excuse, aiming to avoid taking any responsibility,” Sros said.

Separately, the Ministry of Environment plans to establish a patrol station in Prey Lang Wildlife Sanctuary – near the junction between Kampong Thom, Kratie and Stung Treng provinces – to effectively prevent crime and easily implement legal procedures to protect natural sources in the region.

Ministry spokesman Neth Pheaktra told The Post on Monday that on Saturday, there was a meeting in Kampong Thom province to discuss better and more efficient management of the wildlife sanctuary. The gathering was attended by more than 100 officers and community members.

Boosting efficiency

Pheaktra said building the new station would see an increase in the number of patrols and result in more efficient law enforcement. The team is looking for the best location to establish it.

“We have not determined the budget or the size yet, but the ministry’s working team and four provincial officials are talking about it,” he said.

Ministry secretary of state Sao Sopheap, who led the meeting, could not be reached for comment.

However, he told a local media outlet that the ministry has prepared a plan to preserve forests in the Kampong Thom, Kratie and Stung Treng triangle area, and a new station will be constructed to help the joint task force of the three provincial task forces.

Sopheap said the proposal was made after a conference – organised by the ministry and titled Joint Thinking, Joint Action, Preventing Crimes Together – was held on Friday in Prey Lang Wildlife Sanctuary and where environmental experts from Kampong Thom, Kratie, Stung Treng and Preah Vihear provinces participated.

After the meeting, Sopheap, community members, relevant NGOs and authorities from the four provinces visited the area to identify the best location to prevent environmental crimes in the sanctuary.

MOST VIEWED

  • Ministry issues warning over coronavirus outbreak

    The Ministry of Health on Wednesday asked the public to be on “high alert” as a new virus wreaks havoc across Asia. However, no cases have been reported in the Kingdom thus far. The 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) has raised the alarm for its similarity to

  • First case of coronavirus reported in the Kingdom

    Cambodia reported its first case of the deadly 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) on Monday, Minister of Health Mam Bun Heng announced. He said medical specialists detected the virus in a Chinese tourist in Sihanoukville. The minister said Jia Jianhua, 60, travelled from Wuhan city, where the outbreak

  • PM urges precaution amid virus outbreak

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Sunday called on all Cambodians to bump up precautions to avoid contracting the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) that has already killed more than 50 people in China. The prime minister told the public to remain calm but alert about the possibility of

  • Gov’t slams NGO over 2019 corruption report

    The government on Thursday slammed a report that described the Kingdom as highly corrupt. Government spokesperson Phay Siphan dismissed the latest Transparency International (TI) report as “just an advertisement of NGOs to promote their own interests”. Released on Thursday, the report puts Cambodia near the

  • NBC’s digital payments to go live in next few months

    The National Bank of Cambodia (NBC) will launch a Blockchain-based, peer-to-peer payment and money transfer platform in the next few months, its director-general Chea Serey told The Post on Monday. Dubbed ‘Project Bakong’, the scheme already has the support of 11 banks, with many more expected

  • Gov’t answers garment buyers’ complaint

    Some of the biggest buyers in the Kingdom’s garment sector have urged Prime Minister Hun Sen to address issues faced by unions and workers – a request a senior official said was out of touch with the situation on the ground. The letter addressed to