Four pieces of heavy machinery used for clearing protected forest in the Southern Cardamom Mountains in Kampong Speu’s Oral district were seized during a forest patrol on Monday.
According to Chea Hean, director of the Natural Resources and Wildlife Preservation Organization (NRWPO), about one hectare of the protected forest in Tasal commune had already been cleared when he and four rangers from Phnom Oral Wildlife Sanctuary discovered four excavators and bulldozers during a patrol. Three of the four drivers escaped into the forest, though they managed to question the remaining driver.
“He claimed that the clearing was legal and we asked him to retrieve any legal documents to show us, but he never returned,” Hean said, adding that no one had since made a complaint against the rangers despite the driver’s claim.
The machinery is being impounded at the ranger station while the NRWPO is searching for its owners and the person behind the land clearance.
Hean also said NRWPO would send a letter to Phnom Oral Wildlife Sanctuary director Khorn Sokhun requesting that they make the cleared land state property before replanting the forest.
Sokhun could not be reached for comment yesterday. Chan Chhom, Tasal commune chief, and district governor Muong Thy claimed to be unaware of the crimes, though they said they would look into the case.