Trees will be replanted on land that has been illegally deforested
Deforested land in Stung Treng province. The government is seizing illegally cleared land.
Over the last two years, the government has reclaimed 250,000 hectares of forest land that had been illegally occupied and frequently logged by private citizens and companies, Ty Sokhon, director general of the Forestry Administration of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, told the Post last week.
The bulk of the seizures took place in Siem Reap and Banteay Meanchey provinces, with 90 percent of the crackdowns being carried out by provincial authorities, and the remainder by the courts, he said. The seizures, which have exceeded the government's target confiscation goal of 240,000 hectares by the end of 2008, have led to 20,000 appeals concerning 90,000 hectares, he added.
Svay Sitha, secretary general of the National Authority for Resolving Land Disputes, said confiscated land would be redistributed as economic and social land concessions and that trees would be replanted in some of the logged areas.
"Illegal land occupation is still a problem," he said, adding that incentives for land grabs have been diminished by a government crackdown and a general downward pressure on land values.
Chan Soveth, conservation investigator for the rights group Adhoc, said "companies have destroyed forests without replanting as stipulated in their contracts ... there needs to be serious punishment for destroying important national resources".