Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Veng Sakhon on Wednesday stressed the importance of forest resources and the need to protect them to boost the economy and livelihoods of forest communities while maintaining a sustainable environment.
At the Forestry Administration’s annual review meeting, attended by about 400 participants from various ministerial departments, he said authorities must closely monitor forests to develop forest cover sustainably to respond to ever-increasing needs for timber.
Sakhon said: “Relevant authorities must manage and preserve natural resources sustainably. They have to jointly stop illegal logging and land encroachment, wildlife trading and the use of economic land concessions contrary to principles.
“All of this is the objective that we have to meet in the spirit of responsibility to implement the law consistently, deeply, on time and effectively.”
He instructed all officials to take responsibility for their work and collaborate better with the armed forces at all levels to solve problems related to the work of managing forest resources.
Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries spokesman Srey Vuthy could not be reached for comment.
Civil society organisation ACNCIPO head Chea Hean claimed the relevant ministries and institutions tasked with cracking down on forest crimes had not properly complied with the plans and strategies of the government as some of their officials were corrupt.
These corrupt officials allow natural resources to be logged and destroyed, affecting forest communities, and the sustainability of the environment, habitats and food resources of wild animals, he said.
“Natural resource crimes occur in areas such as Stung Treng, Ratanakkiri, Mondulkiri, Kratie, Kampong Thom, Kampong Speu, Pursat and Koh Kong provinces. The authorities don’t seem to have measures to stop those crimes. They just speak about theories, not practice,” Hean said.
Ministry of Environment spokesman Neth Pheaktra reported last month that environment officials had cracked down on natural resource crimes and seized many exhibits.
During operations, they seized nearly 10,000 cubic metres of lumber, 800 cubic metres of round timber and 695 cubic metres of high-grade timber.
They also collected 4,047 snares, held 314 trucks and motorcycles, 190 chainsaws and 153 handsaws. Nearly 500 people were made to sign contracts agreeing to stop their actions and some cases were referred to courts.