Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - NGO seizes 2,300 chainsaws

NGO seizes 2,300 chainsaws

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Wildlife Alliance founder and CEO Suwanna Gauntlett photographed with 2,300 chainsaws confiscated by the organisation over a two-year period. SUWANNA GAUNTLETT VIA FACEBOOK

NGO seizes 2,300 chainsaws

International wildlife and forest conservation organisation, Wildlife Alliance, said on Monday that 2,300 chainsaws were seized from illegal loggers in the Southern Cardamom Mountains in the last two years.

The seizing of the chainsaws is a joint programme initiated by the Ministry of Environment and Wildlife Alliance.

“The items are being kept in seven forest preservation headquarters in the Southern Cardamom Mountains located in four provinces – Kampong Speu, Koh Kong, Preah Sihanouk and Pursat. We have also seized other equipment, including snares,” a Wildlife Alliance official told The Post via email.

Wildlife Alliance founder and CEO Suwanna Gauntlett wrote on Twitter on June 26: “We estimate that each chainsaw is responsible for destroying about one hectare of rainforest.

“It takes the rangers a lot of time and physical effort to catch the illegal loggers and confiscate their chainsaws.”

The organisation did not reveal how many illegal loggers had been detained.

Ministry of Environment spokesman Neth Pheaktra said it is the Wildlife Alliance that makes the decision of what to do with the chainsaws.

Pursat provincial Environment Department director Pan Morokort said that this year, 25 forestry offences have been busted, with nine tractors and 50 chainsaws seized. Ten offenders were sent to court in regards to the cases.

But he said the destruction of the forest in the Cardamom Mountains had not declined. Encroachments on protected forest and community land by people from other provinces continue, Morokort said, and the department still has a shortage of manpower.

It employs only 60 rangers to patrol 689,000ha of forest, he said. “The land and the patrolling manpower are disproportionate. We need 200 to 300 people, but I cannot ask for the manpower from the ministry.

“When the forest rangers make patrols, they face many dangers because there are more offenders than rangers and some of them carry weapons."

“Sometimes National and Military Police are invited by the environmental department and it pays them travel and food expenses. They are usually only involved in the big cases but regular patrols are only made by environmental officials.

“For big cases, we call them two or three times a month and spend from two to three million riel [about $500 to $750] because they stay two to three days,” Morokort said.

The government has approved the designation of 410,392ha of the Southern Cardamom Mountains as a National Park, in order to protect the environment and sustainably preserve natural resources.

Pen Bonna, the senior land and natural resources officer for rights group Adhoc, said if government authorities do not take responsibility for the loss of forest land and keep making excuses about a shortage of manpower, under the Forestry Law, the officials should face a prison term of between one and five years.

He said forestry crimes might decline if the judicial police prevented chainsaws coming across the border and seized chainsaws on sale illegally in markets.

“For example, in Ratanakkiri province, the chainsaws that are sold in the markets are unauthorised, but the local authorities turn a blind eye. In the past, we raised the issue of anarchic logging at a provincial workshop."

“At that time, the district Forestry Administration chief said he had striven to apprehend offenders and had sent them local prosecutors, but then the criminals were released along with the evidence, so it discouraged him,” Bonna said.

MOST VIEWED

  • Cambodia armed with money laundering laws

    Money laundering will now carry a penalty of up to five years in prison while those convicted of financing terrorists will be jailed for up to 20 years, according to new laws promulgated by King Norodom Sihamoni and seen by The Post on Thursday. Comprising nine

  • Schools to be reopened in ‘three stages’

    With guidance from Prime Minister Hun Sen, the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, is in the process of reopening schools in three stages. But no timeline has been set, ministry spokesperson Ros Soveacha said on Thursday. Soveacha said the first stage will be to

  • Thai border crossings eased

    The Cambodian Embassy in Thailand said in an announcement on Wednesday that Thailand’s government has allowed certain passengers from several countries to enter its borders. The visitors must go back to their country immediately after their duties in Thailand are fulfilled, the embassy said.

  • Gov’t says tourism recovers slightly despite pandemic

    The Ministry of Tourism and the Phnom Penh municipal administration have recognised 33 tourism businesses in the capital which have consistently implemented safety measures for tourists and adhered to the code of conduct issued by the ministry. Recently, the ministry announced that tourism businesses had to

  • Mull ASEAN border opening, PM urges

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has requested that ASEAN launch a scenario for gradually reopening cross-border travel and trade between countries in the region. He said ASEAN has had more success combating Covid-19 compared to other regions. The prime minister’s request was made at the

  • Ministry reports 11 new Covid-19 cases, reiterates vigilance

    Minister of Health Mam Bun Heng has urged people to continue practising virus prevention techniques after 11 people tested positive for Covid-19 within two days after arriving in the Kingdom. Speaking on Sunday, Bun Heng stressed the importance of washing hands, wearing masks or scarves when

  • Koh Rong land ‘belongs to firm’

    Preah Sihanouk Provincial Administration spokesperson Kheang Phearum told The Post on Sunday that the 35ha being bulldozed by Royal Group Co Ltd in Koh Rong belongs to it after it was leased to it for 99 years by the government in 2008. Phearum said the land does

  • Nine on Indonesia flight Covid-19 positive

    The Ministry of Health on Saturday confirmed nine more imported cases of Covid-19. The nine ‒ eight Cambodians and one Indonesian, aged 22 to 26 ‒ arrived in Cambodia on Thursday via a direct flight from Indonesia and are receiving treatment at the Khmer-Soviet Friendship Hostipal in Phnom Penh.

  • Kingdom’s financial sector healthy

    Cambodia's financial sector remains on a sustainable growth path despite the Covid-19 pandemic squeezing crucial industries, National Bank of Cambodia (NBC) governor Chea Chanto said. Tourism, garments and footwear have borne the brunt of the Covid-19 impact, he said, whereas the financial and agriculture sectors

  • Vietnam told to remove border tents

    Kandal provincial governor Kong Sophoan has ordered local authorities to prohibit the construction of buildings in areas bordering Cambodia and to report any irregularities immediately. Recently, Vietnamese officials removed another seven tents from the border area with Cambodia. His remarks were made on Wednesday afternoon