A Mondulkiri provincial committee has discovered six forest locations totalling more than 10ha in a protected area of Pech Chreada district’s Bou Sra commune that has been cleared for farming.
Several people have been detained but authorities are looking to find land for them in another area to enable a land swap.
Phnom Namlear Wildlife Sanctuary director Vuth Sarum told The Post on Monday that provincial governor Svay Sam Eang had formed the committee to process land identification in the O’Pot and O’Ronav areas of Bou Sra commune between Wednesday and Friday last week.
He said the working group found that six locations adjacent to each other and covering 10ha had been encroached on and cleared by 30 families earlier this year.
Since making the discovery, he said, expert environmental officials had been searching for more of the loggers and those involved in clearing the land.
Sarum said those who had been found had promised to stop clearing the forest and the officials were consulting with their superiors about the possibility of a land swap.
“We have reported it to our superiors, who have told them to stop clearing the forest. It’s a sanctuary and a place of conservation. We always ban them. If we didn’t ban them, perhaps the land would become a desert,” Sarum said.
Provincial administration chief Hiek Sophan told The Post on Monday that the working group had already carried out their tasks, but the environmental officials are conducting further monitoring and making contracts with the people to stop clearing the area.
He said the authorities had promised to find another location to exchange for the land.
“I don’t know clearly yet about a new location to be swapped for them, but we are discussing it and the environmental officials are also looking for a new location. I don’t have a specific timeframe. We’re waiting for the provincial committee to meet again,” he said.
After hearing of the cleared state land in Pech Chreada district, Sam Eang on February 25 set up the committee – made up of 10 provincial officials and several local officials – to inspect the area and process the identification of those involved.
Governor Sam Eang could not be reached for comments on Monday.