Government officials and civil society organisations in Ratanakkiri province report a significant decrease in the number of forest crimes, noting that perpetrators are no longer using large vehicles to transport the timber.
Ratanakkiri provincial Department of Agriculture director Soy Sona said that, on the surface, forest offences in the province seem to have stopped. In reality, locals are still illegally taking timber out of the forest, but now they are using motorcycles instead of trucks and cars, making their crimes less visible.
“People are using their motorcycles to transport timber. They no longer dare use their cars,” he said, adding that most of the timber that is being transported this way was harvested some months ago. No new cases of illegal logging have been reported recently, Sona said.
Provincial Military Police commander Thav Yen said his officials on Tuesday arrested one person for smuggling timber on a motorcycle in O’Yadav district’s Paknhai commune and seized 20 large logs. The man, part of a group of four, intended to sell the timber in Vietnam. His accomplices escaped.
The crackdown was carried out in conjunction with the provincial court. The seized timber was handed over to the forestry administration office.
“Our officials are on stand-by round-the-clock to act on any order or tip-off. We must take action no matter how difficult the situation is,” he said.
Like Sona, Yen also confirms that forest crimes in the province have recently decreased.
Provincial Department of Environment director Phon Khemerin concurred.
“The only crimes we are seeing now are people moving timber on motorbikes,” he said.
Provincial coordinator for Adhoc Din Khanny said logging continues to be a problem in the province, but that it is now happening at a smaller scale.
“Although the situation is quiet now, the authorities must still take action against those transporting timber on their motorbikes. If we make it impossible for them to smuggle timber, they will have to find other ways of earning money, and the forest will be safe,” he said.
Last year, two tycoons were indicted for running large-scale logging operations in Kratie and Mondulkiri provinces.
In July, Soeng Sam Ol and three accomplices were placed in pre-trial detention after being charged with illegal logging in Mondulkiri. A month later, Kong Kroeng and his son-in-law were charged with plundering forests in Kratie’s Snuol district, along the Vietnamese border.
Also in August, authorities seized nine trucks loaded with timber in Kratie’s Snuol district as they attempted to cross the border to reach Vietnam.