The National Committee for the Prevention and Crackdown on Natural Resource Crimes said forestry crimes have largely decreased, with 59 suspects arrested and sent to court throughout last year.
The committee also confiscated 9,215 cubic metres of mixed timbers and 491 items used to commit forestry crimes, apart from destroying 212 homemade trucks, it said in a press release obtained by The Post on Sunday.
All seized timber is being retained for public bidding to collect revenue for the state, it said.
“Large-scale illegal logging and timber hauling have largely decreased, but forest products are still being illegally transported through homemade trucks, minivans, motorcycles and oxcarts in a small scale,” the press release said.
The committee called on local authorities to monitor timber hauling activities and inspect warehouses suspected of hiding illegal timber.
“We urge the public and media to continue providing true information to the authorities at all levels. The information is important for us to prevent and crack down on forestry crimes,” it said.
Forest activist Heng Sros said while he acknowledged the committee’s efforts in combating illegal logging, he wants the authorities to also target the rich and powerful who buy timber from loggers for sale to other countries.
“To tackle the crimes more effectively, the committee must also arrest powerful tycoons who are masterminds behind deforestation in Cambodia.
“The committee should not just arrest ordinary loggers who transport timber on motorbikes or small homemade trucks but instead focus on big trucks that transport timber across the borders,” he said.
The committee and National Military Police spokesman Eng Hy declined to provide details on Sunday when asked how many powerful people are suspected of being behind forestry crimes.
Last year, several tycoons were arrested in connection with forestry offences including Soeng Sam Ol, Kong Kroeng, Srun Meng Leang, Tob Vida, and Von Bunthai.
Chun Chien, a member of Prey Preah Roka Forest Community Network (PPRFCN) in Preah Vihear province, said following the committee’s crackdowns last year, forest crimes in the area had decreased by about 70 per cent.