Oddar Meanchey forestry officials and local patrollers found around 60 logs of luxury timber in the province’s Banteay Ampil district on Tuesday and three chainsaws in a separate case in Anlong Veng district.
Nou Phirum, chief of the Banteay Ampil Forestry Administration, said villagers and forestry officials found the thnong timber as they made the rounds of a community forest in Kok Khpos commune.
“We believe that those logs were secretly logged and hidden to wait for a good chance to take them out of the forest to the market in the district or Vietnam,” he said.
However, as the team was bringing back the logs to the forestry office, they were stopped by soldiers who thought they were illegally taking the logs.
Eventually, provincial officials and the soldiers’ commander convinced them that the patrollers were not illegal loggers.
Members of the Samaki Sankruos Prey Chhue community forest and Anlong Veng forestry officials also seized three chainsaws they suspect had been brought in to clear land in the forest, according to Khun Bunheng, chief of Anlong Veng Forestry Administration.
“The three chainsaws have been discovered at a place where land clearing happened [in the past],” he said.
Lev Saeb, Rochek village chief, said villagers had been found to be clearing the land, saying they wanted to use it for agriculture but were selling the logs and occupying the land.
“Though there is prohibition from local authorities, some villagers under the pretext of lack of agricultural land have cleared the forest to use the land anarchically,” Saeb said.