Five new chainsaws and six makeshift tractors were impounded by the Prey Preah Roka Forest Community Network (PPRFCN) and rangers during a three-day forest patrol from June 7-9 in Preah Vihear province.
Sun Pov, a PPRFCN representative who also participated in the forest protection campaign, told The Post on Tuesday that forestry crimes in the Prey Preah Roka Wildlife Sanctuary have persisted despite frequent patrols by rangers and forest communities.
Pov said that on June 7-9, the group had patrolled the O’Krouch Tavin, Chaim Key, O’Khsach Sar and Veal O’Khlung areas in the sanctuary, leading to the confiscation of a total of four cubic metres of mixed sawn timber and other equipment.
“We seized them as evidence and have given them to the Prey Preah Roka Wildlife Sanctuary rangers who have retained them for further action in accordance with legal procedures,” he said.
The Prey Preah Roka sanctuary covers 96,000ha and spans three districts including Tbeng Meanchey, Choam Ksan and Chheb districts. In May 2016, the government designated the forest a protected wildlife sanctuary.
Pov said Kuoy ethnic minority groups have inhabited the area near the sanctuary and have joined hands to protect it as they considered the area as their food barn.
Some 77 per cent of villagers living in the area relies on resin trees for their livelihoods while the rest depend on hunting, fishing and forestry products including herbal plants.
The majority of the villagers are currently facing hardship as many of the resin trees have been felled by illegal loggers, said a report issued by the PPRCF community.
Through its Facebook page on Tuesday, the PPRCF community said over 100ha of the forest had been cleared. The logging, the report said, had started since before the area was designated a protected wildlife sanctuary.
The report continued that within four months from early February until early this month, 73 resin trees had been felled and sawn before being distributed for sale to various timber depots throughout the country.
In its crackdowns, the joint patrolling team caught a number of perpetrators and confiscated plywood and other equipment as evidence before handing them over to the relevant authorities for further action.
On Tuesday, Ministry of Environment spokesman Neth Pheaktra welcomed joint efforts of the PPRCF community and rangers in patrolling protected areas managed by the ministry and their collaboration in preventing forestry crimes including illegal logging and poaching.
“The Ministry of Environment will take stricter actions both in education and law enforcement against perpetrators in order to better protect and conserve the sanctuary."
“The ministry welcomed the communities’ participation in the prevention and clampdown on natural resource crimes in protected areas,” he said.