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Government logging ban approved to foil "rouges"

Government logging ban approved to foil "rouges"

T he government has ordered more action against illegal logging in Koh Kong province in southwest Cambodia.

In a bid to stamp out environmental damage from illegal logging, the Council of Ministers decided on a partial logging ban on Dec 26.

The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fishery, in cooperation with the Defense and Interior Ministries, would be responsible for stopping logging, a government statement said.

The ban on logging would come into effect on Dec 31. The export of logs already cut would be allowed to continue until April 30, when all exporting would also be banned.

Minister of Agriculture Tao Seng Huor said illegal logging in Koh Kong was being done by "armed men" - rogue Royal Cambodian Armed Forces soldiers or Khmer Rouge guerrillas.

A similar moratorium would be considered in the near future for Stoeng Treng and Kratie provinces, which had similar problems, he said.

The government would, however, continue to allow limited foreign investment in the logging industry in other provinces and some areas of Koh Kong.

More than two million hectares of land had been reserved for forestry concessions to foreign companies, provided they met the government's conditions for sustainable forest management and investment in infrastructure, the minister said.

The companies included Malaysia's SAMLING firm, with whom the government had signed a memorandum of understanding for forestry concessions in Mondolkiri, Kampong Speu, Kampong Thom and Koh Kong provinces.

It has been estimated that the amount of Cambodian land covered by forest has been eroded from 70 per cent to 40 per cent since the 1970s. The Khmer Rouge, strongest among northern and western parts of the country, have been blamed for much illegal logging.

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