LOGGING companies - at present under no legal obligation to protect the
environment - will be forced to do so after the striking of the new Environment
Once the draft environment law has been passed by the National
Assembly the way is paved for the implementation of more specific green laws,
including the Environmental Impact Assessments Law (EIA).
In the EIA
logging companies will be forced to take more responsibilities for their
operations and criminal sanctions will be put in the law for grave environmental
sanctions, Environment Minister Mok Mareth said.
Mareth said that unless
strong measures to protect the country's natural resources were taken logging
could cause great damage to the environment such as deforestation, flodding and
Strict and strong laws for government officers guarding the
logging consessions should also be implemented to make them understand and
respect their profession, he said.
In the 1960s, Cambodia had forestry
laws that ensured government officers showed strict discipline to their
concession. They were demoted or imprisoned if illegal logging occured in their
concessions, he said.
The minister said his ministry had finished a
draft environment law designed to protect its natural resources which would
build the foundation of further legal framework for the environmental
A lack of transparency over the government's policy on logging
and the granting of a 60-year logging concession to Sarawak-based Samling
Corporation covering 800,000 hectares or four percent of the entire country, has
raised serious concerns about environmental degradation.
"In order to
protect public health and welfare, protect and enhance environmental quality and
ensure sustainable development" special sub-decrees will be made for air, noise,
vibration and water pollution and for solid wastes.
Under a chapter
entitled Natural Resources and Environmental Protection, the draft proposes that
the government assess the impact on the environment caused by the "development,
use, and management of each natural resource."
Gregory Woodsworth, of the
International Development Research Center, which acts in an advisor capacity to
the Cambodian government on environmental issues, said the draft was reasonably
"It's an umbrella-piece of legislation designed to define the
overall management and responsibility of the ministry. The draft should be seen
as a starting point and not a true piece of legislation," Woodsworth said.