Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - New logging contracts dwarf Samling's deal

New logging contracts dwarf Samling's deal

New logging contracts dwarf Samling's deal

T HE controversial 800,000 hectare Samling logging deal has been dwarfed by a

recent 1.5 million hectare concession awarded to the Indonesian Panin

Group.

A second huge deal signed July 21 of more than 500,000 hectares,

to Malaysia's Grand Atlantic, is just another of 27 mainly foreign logging

companies who have either applied for license approval, or who already have

existing licenses.

The information was confirmed by Forestry Department

chief Cham Sarun.

Those waiting are six Taiwanese groups, another two

Malaysian companies based in Sarawak, a South Korean, two Singaporean, a

Japanese and two joint Australian-Cambodian groups.

It is not known how

much the contracts are worth. Samling's payments to the Royal Government for its

concession have never been publicized.

It is clear that after a brief

pause in legal logging following the December 30 ban, millions of hectares of

Cambodian forests are being earmarked for logging.

Licenses have already

been approved - and many are long-standing - for four Thai, three Malaysian

(including Samling and Grand Atlantic), two Indonesian, two joint

Cambodian/Japanese and Cambodian/Russian ventures, and two Cambodian

companies.

The deals - approved at Prime or senior ministerial level

(Samling was approved by the Council of Ministers) - are upsetting some forestry

officials.

They say the deals breach forest management

regulations.

Though Agriculture Minister Tao Seng Huor claims that

logging contracts are only going to companies which will replant Cambodian

forests, technical experts say the contracts are "not reassuring."

One

senior agricultural employee, a well-trained technician and former forestry

employee, said he feared good policies are being ignored in the rush to sign big

foreign contracts.

"Contracts now being approved by the two Prime

Ministers in many respects don't follow forestry management policy, in regard to

the levels of logging allowed," said the man, who requested

anonymity.

"Since French occupation we have had strict forestry

management policies, which were further developed in the Sangkum Rastry Niyum

(Sihanouk's) regime," he said.

"The Forestry Department has the necessary

skills and knowledge to regulate forest usage if it is allowed to carry out its

job," he said.

A second senior forestry official, who requested he not be

named, agreed that important technical policies were not being adhered to in the

wave of new contracts.

New concessions allow for every tree with a

circumference of 45cms to be cut. Forestry regulations allow only one tree in

every three with a circumference of 60cms or more to be cut.

Regulations

also call for 70 percent of large trees to remain standing for soil

conservation, regeneration and to supply seedlings. This is understood to be

missing from new contracts.

Forestry regulations also state that full

inventories of forest cover should be made before logging begins, however the

official said companies are surveying only the parts of the forest they wanted

to log.

"If you do it bit by bit you cannot ensure the regeneration of

the forest because we have no idea of the original cover," he

said.

Samling's license only binds the company to replace each tree

felled "if natural regeneration does not occur."

Another forestry

official said that contracts should be prepared and controlled by the Forestry

Department because forestry protection was a technical, not policy

matter.

The officer said: "Sometimes I lose hope because there should be

uniform technical protection measure for all forestry concessions so we can

protect our forests".

MOST VIEWED

  • Hun Sen: Stop Russia sanctions

    Prime Minister Hun Sen said sanctions against Russia as a result of its military offensive in Ukraine should be stopped as they have produced no tangible results, and predicted that a global food crisis would ensue in 2023 as a consequence. Speaking to an audience at

  • Chinese tourists 2.0 – Coming anytime soon?

    Regional tourism is grappling with the absence of the prolific travellers and big spenders – the Chinese tourists. Cambodia, which has welcomed over two million Chinese tourists before Covid-19, is reeling from the economic loss despite being the first to fully open last November ‘To put

  • PM reflects on shoe throwing: Free speech or act of violence?

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on May 17 questioned whether a man who threw a shoe at him while he was in the US was exercising freedom of expression or if it was an act of hostility. Hun Sen was referring to an incident last week when

  • Siem Reap’s Angkor Botanical Garden opens

    The Angkor Botanical Garden was officially opened on May 19 with free entry for both local and international visitors for the first six weeks. The garden was established on a nearly 15ha plot of land in Siem Reap. “After the first six weeks, Angkor Botanical Garden

  • Pub Street on the cards for Battambang

    The Battambang Provincial Authority has announced that it is considering establishing a Pub Street in the area around the heritage buildings in Battambang town in a bid to attract more tourists. Battambang provincial governor Sok Lou told The Post that the establishment of a Pub

  • Hun Sen: Don’t react to hostility

    Prime Minister Hun Sen urged tolerance and thanked members of the Cambodian diaspora for not reacting to the hostility on display towards him by others while he was in the US to attend the May 12-13 ASEAN-US Special Summit in Washington, DC. In an audio