Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Kirirom Park under assault

Kirirom Park under assault

Kirirom Park under assault

THE Kirirom National Park famed for its environmental beauty and potential as a tourist

destination is under threat by rampant logging and land-grabbing in the area.

The Park has been invaded by loggers who are cutting the area's distinctive pine

trees and "armed groups" poaching land which has led to a state of anarchy,

said Sabou Bacha, under-secretary of state for the Ministry of Environment.

"Kirirom is encountering anarchy. People have rushed in, as have armed groups

to take land for their own," Bacha said.

Hundreds of pine trees in a 30-40ha area have been felled, he said, adding that the

park's eco-system would be destroyed if prompt measures were not taken to stop the

rampage.

"Kirirom is a national park and also a watershed area. Without those pine trees,

rain will erode the soil and bring flooding to lower areas, such as Kompong Speu

province," Bacha said, adding "the pure atmosphere there will also be gone."

Located about 100 km southwest of the capital, Kirirom was given National Park status

by a Royal Decree in November, 1993.

But 1,550 of the 35,000ha conserved was designated Oct 1995 to grow tea and coffee

- a deal criticized by environmentalists.

"If you get on top of the hill and have a look down, you'll think what was given

shouldn't have been given [as a concession] at all. It's a vast portion of land,"

said a ministry official who asked not to be named.

A ministry delegation has been looking at allegations that the tea planting company

owned by Sar Ut has engaged in logging and selling of land in violation of its agreement

with the ministry, Bacha said.

The agreement provides the company with the right to manage the old tea plantation

on condition the park's habitat is preserved.

Bacha said the company's deal would be canceled if found in breach of the agreement.

But Sar Ut denied his company's involvement in logging and land sales which he says

have been carried out by soldiers on orders from commanders in Kompong Speu.

Soldiers have posted property signs in the designated area where he said no development

project - not to mention logging or land sale - could take place without the government's

greenlight.

"I am unable to do anything to stop them [soldiers] because they are armed.

If I breached the agreement, it would be like suicide for me," Ut said.

MOST VIEWED

  • Hong Kong firm done buying Coke Cambodia

    Swire Coca-Cola Ltd, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Hong Kong-listed Swire Pacific Ltd, on November 25 announced that it had completed the acquisition of The Coca-Cola Co’s bottling business in Cambodia, as part of its ambitions to expand into the Southeast Asian market. Swire Coca-Cola affirmed

  • Cambodia's Bokator now officially in World Heritage List

    UNESCO has officially inscribed Cambodia’s “Kun Lbokator”, commonly known as Bokator, on the World Heritage List, according to Minister of Culture and Fine Arts Phoeurng Sackona in her brief report to Prime Minister Hun Sen on the night of November 29. Her report, which was

  • NagaWorld union leader arrested at airport after Australia trip

    Chhim Sithar, head of the Labour Rights Supported Union of Khmer Employees at NagaWorld integrated casino resort, was arrested on November 26 at Phnom Penh International Airport and placed in pre-trial detention after returning from a 12-day trip to Australia. Phnom Penh Municipal Court Investigating Judge

  • Takeo hand-woven silk items provide local high-quality alternative to imports

    After graduating from university and beginning her career as a civil servant at the the Ministry of Economy and Finance, Khieu Sina found time to establish a business that aligns with her true passion – quality hand-woven Khmer goods. Her product line, known as Banteay Srei,

  • Sub-Decree approves $30M for mine clearance

    The Cambodian government established the ‘Mine-Free Cambodia 2025 Foundation’, and released an initial budget of $30 million. Based on the progress of the foundation in 2023, 2024 and 2025, more funds will be added from the national budget and other sources. In a sub-decree signed by Prime Minister Hun Sen

  • Two senior GDP officials defect to CPP

    Two senior officials of the Grassroots Democratic Party (GDP) have asked to join the Cambodian People’s Party (CPP), after apparently failing to forge a political alliance in the run-up to the 2023 general election. Yang Saing Koma, chairman of the GDP board, and Lek Sothear,