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
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
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
The deals - approved at Prime or senior ministerial level
(Samling was approved by the Council of Ministers) - are upsetting some forestry
They say the deals breach forest management
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."
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
"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
"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.
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
"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
Samling's license only binds the company to replace each tree
felled "if natural regeneration does not occur."
official said that contracts should be prepared and controlled by the Forestry
Department because forestry protection was a technical, not policy
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".