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Minister Sam Al calls for probe into illegal Prey Lang logging

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Environment Minister Say Sam Al. Post Pix

Minister Sam Al calls for probe into illegal Prey Lang logging

Environment Minister Say Sam Al has submitted a letter to the Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries asking to jointly investigate Think BioTech Co Ltd and Angkor Plywood Company for suspected illegal logging in Prey Lang Forest.

The letter obtained by The Post on Sunday said the Ministry of Environment had received reports by the EU in Cambodia and USAID Cambodia, which said Think BioTech was logging valuable trees in Prey Lang Forest near land concession areas of the company. Angkor Plywood Company was the party that processed the valuable trees.

“The EU and USAID Cambodia requested the royal government to investigate and take measures to ensure the protection and conservation of Prey Lang Forest.

“To be the basis for making a report to the head of the government, the Ministry of Environment would like His Excellency Minister [of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries] to investigate the developmental activities of Think BioTech and Angkor Plywood Company for the Ministry of Environment.

“I would like His Excellency to be informed that the location of Think BioTech is not within the wildlife sanctuary of ‘Prey Lang Forest’, which is managed by the Ministry of Environment. Rather it is managed by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries,” said Sam Al.

In the letter, Sam Al said the Ministry of Environment would send intervention letters to the relevant provincial governors. It is hoped that a joint working group led by provincial governors would be formed to investigate the case and take necessary action against the perpetrators.

“If there are relevant violations of logging and collecting timber from the wildlife sanctuary [of Prey Lang Forest], the Ministry of Environment will discuss with the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries to request the government for approval and further action,” he said.

Ministry of Environment spokesman Neth Pheaktra said on Sunday: “I don’t have information on the latest developments in the issue.”

Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries secretary-general Srey Vuthy could not be reached for comment on Sunday.

Activist Heng Sros said that he was investigating the case of the two companies, where both had carried out their activities in the forest area located in Kratie and Stung Treng provinces.

“The two companies are the ones to log the timber from the Prey Lang Forest area and transport them to sell abroad. If we look at the Environment Minister’s request to the Minister of Agriculture, it seems to be blaming each other back and forth. They failed to work together to stop forests in Cambodia from being cut down,” he said.

Sros reiterated that forest activists and residents living near the Prey Lang Forest area had filed several complaints and requested that provincial authorities take measures against the companies.

He claimed that the authorities had not taken any action, instead choosing to help the companies cover-up illegal logging activities.

If the relevant ministries failed to take timely action to stop illegal logging activities, Prey Lang Forest will surely disappear, he said.

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