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

  • Construction begins on $1.5B Kampot seaport

    The International Multi-Purpose Logistics and Port Centre, principally invested by Kampot Logistics and Port Co Ltd and projected to cost $1.5 billion, has officially broken ground in Bokor town, Kampot province. The multi-purpose logistics and port centre, located in Prek Tnaot commune, will be built on

  • Cambodia eyes key role in electronics, auto hubs in SEA

    Two roadmaps, part of the LDC’s economic diversification plan, were designed to see it through its migration process, but experts say the journey might be arduous, particularly in the presence of two established hubs in the region By 2028, Cambodia hopes to have exited the

  • Hun Neng, lawmaker and PM’s brother, passes away aged 72

    Hun Neng, chairman of the 4th Commission of the National Assembly, has passed away from heart disease at the age of 72 on the afternoon of May 5, according to the Ministry of Information. Hun Neng is the older brother of Prime Minister Hun Sen, and was

  • Massive stingrays may live in Mekong’s deep pools

    US scientists have suggested that unexplored deep pools in the Mekong River in an area of Stung Treng could potentially be home to significant populations of giant freshwater stingrays, one of the world’s largest freshwater fish species. This comes as a fisherman hooked a 180

  • PM meets with US business giants

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has met with a number of major US companies who have expressed interest in investing in Cambodia, in a meeting convened by the US-ASEAN Business Council (US-ABC). A delegation of companies – including Amazon, Meta, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil, Ford, Visa and Pernod

  • CCC team off on US business trip

    The Kingdom’s leading economists and private sector representatives have called on the US to renew its tax preferential status for Cambodian exports, as a Cambodia Chamber of Commerce (CCC) delegation departed for a weeklong business visit to the US, where they will meet with