Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Ethnic group claims forest being illegally cut

Ethnic group claims forest being illegally cut

Ethnic group claims forest being illegally cut

Villagers from the Tumpuon ethnic minority group in Keng San community forest are accusing the local authority and some community members of colluding with timber traders to illegally fell large trees and clear dozens of hectares of forest land in their community.

The forest borders the Lumphat Wildlife Sanctuary in Ratanakiri province’s Lumphat district.

Representatives of the Kham Khin and Tumpuon ethnic minority groups told The Post on Thursday that most of the loggers came from different provinces. They have chainsaws and set up camps in the community forest in O’Krieng area for the past week.

The loggers sell timber to traders who will distribute them to various depots in the northeast provinces before exporting them to Vietnam.

“Recently, they also cleared 30 hectares of community forest with total disregard for the laws,” said Nin, a representative of the minority groups who gave only his first name.

“The loggers and traders are backed by local authorities who collude and permit them to commit forest crimes for personal gains,” he said.

Keng San villager Srout Sambok said the clearing also spread to natural streams and the last remaining area where the Tumpuon ethnic community villagers collect forestry products.

“Our community forest land, which is about 1,000 hectares and the only remaining forest, stretches from O’Krieng to Nam Lear Lake. But it is being cleared. An additional 30 hectares have been cleared recently by outside traders who colluded with local authorities.

“It would not take long before our community forest falls into the hands of traders because of negligence and collusion. We’ve lost trust in Nhok Kuot, the Keng San village chief and head of the Tumpuon ethnic community who often warned us against protesting,” Sambok said.

Kuot admitted Thursday that there are outside villagers logging trees in the protected forest area, but he denied the villagers’ allegations that the authorities’ colluded with the traders.

“It’s the villagers who secretly fell the trees every day to support their families,” Kuot claimed.

Adhoc’s senior land and natural resources officer Pen Bonna said the Keng San community forest is part of the Lumphat Wildlife Sanctuary that is located on 4,000 hectares.

MOST VIEWED

  • Hundreds of children in hospital with dengue

    A serious dengue fever epidemic is affecting Cambodia, with nearly 600 children hospitalised in the five Kantha Bopha Children’s Hospitals on Monday alone, a statement posted on the Kantha Bopha Foundation’s official Facebook page said on Wednesday. Because Kantha Bopha Children’s Hospitals provide

  • Sihanoukville building collapse death toll rises to 19

    Minister of Interior Sar Kheng said on Sunday that the government will act against those responsible for the collapse of a seven-storey building in Sihanoukville on Saturday, which resulted in 19 dead and 24 injured as of Sunday evening. Sar Kheng said three Chinese nationals and one

  • Gov’t to probe Chinese exports to US via Sihanoukville

    The government is investigating allegations that Chinese companies are using Chinese-owned special economic zones in Cambodia to export goods to the US and avoid tariffs, said Ministry of Commerce spokesman Seang Thay. The move comes after US embassy spokesman Arend Zwartjes said the US had

  • Banh: The Khmer Rouge worse than sanctions and pressure

    Minister of National Defence Tea Banh said on Thursday that having sanctions and external pressure placed on Cambodia was not worse than life under the brutal Khmer Rouge regime. Tea Banh, who is also deputy prime minister, was speaking to military and ruling party officials