Preah Sihanouk police questioned four men for illegally logging the forest in Prey Nop district, provincial hall spokesman Kheang Phearum told The Post on Wednesday.
The Preah Sihanouk Department of Environment also issued a press release stating forest rangers on patrol found the four clearing the forest to claim the land in Ream commune.
“The four people and evidence were taken to the Preah Sihanouk provincial police office by forest rangers,” Phearum said.
The environment department’s press release said: “Recently, land encroachment in Ream Park has been occurring in Ream and O’Chrov communes, Prey Nop district, Preah Sihanouk.”
The Preah Sihanouk Provincial Hall said the Provincial Administrative Unity Force, in cooperation with the rangers from the environment department, have been enforcing land laws more frequently.
Authorities recently removed 43 cottages that 20 people built to encroach on land privately owned by a villager in commune 1, Preah Sihanouk City, Preah Sihanouk, the press release said.
It said citizens told the administration they would remove the cottages by themselves.
“On July 27, our forces met 20 citizens in that location. They volunteered to remove the cottage from the location without any disagreement,” according to the release.
Phearum said the recent uptick in activity is a response to a rise in wrongdoing.
“There is a law about protected areas. If there is trespassing, we have to stop it. If people build cottages, log forest land and put a mark on forest land, we will enforce the law on offenders,” he said.
Adhoc Preah Sihanouk provincial coordinator Cheap Sotheary said most land encroachment by citizens is handled by the Ministry of Environment.
Some citizens bought land from others. When the price in this province soared they started to build on the land and caused provincial authorities to take legal action.
“If authorities remove cottages that citizens build, they have to manage the land properly and not give it to investors or specific individuals,” Sotheary said.