Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - PM’s logging decree ‘too late’

PM’s logging decree ‘too late’

PM’s logging decree ‘too late’

A man dressed in RCAF fatigues watches over a stockpile of illegally rosewood
A man dressed in RCAF fatigues watches over a stockpile of illegally harvested rosewood at a make-shift weigh station in the Central Cardamom Protected Forest in Koh Kong province in December 2011. Will Baxter

Activists are welcoming Prime Minister Hun Sen’s public vow to prevent logging and rosewood trafficking, but they also say it’s too little too late to have any serious impact on protecting Cambodia’s already decimated forests.

In a speech on Friday at the Ministry of Interior, Hun Sen said he was joining in the battle to protect  the country’s precious rosewood, or Kronhung trees, which are high-value targets for loggers for the enticing amounts of money they fetch.

“I suggest wanting other wood beside Kronhung wood, and I also signed a circular letter on February 21 to promote this effort to avoiding logging and Kronhung wood trafficking. We also have to tell the countries that buy [illegal] wood from Cambodia to stop buying. It prevents logging,” he said.

Among rights groups that have monitored the pilfering of rosewood from Cambodia, however, the reception to his comments was lukewarm at best.

“This circular should have been issued six or seven years ago,” when there was rosewood left to save, said Chhim Savuth, program coordinator at the Cambodian Center for Human Rights.
“Now, not only rosewood trees are gone, but also the roots have been dug up.”

He also pointed out that, had something effective been in place six or seven years ago, many Cambodians crossing the border into Thailand on illegal logging journeys would not have been shot or detained. Instead, he offered, the government should focus on protecting specific threatened areas, such as Pursat province’s Cardamom mountains, Oral mountain in Kampong Speu province and Prey Lang forest in the north of the country, all bases from where rosewood timber is exported on its way to China.

Chan Soveth, senior investigator of rights group Adhoc, said that if there were large amounts of rosewood to protect remaining in Cambodian forests, then Cambodians wouldn’t go across the border to log in other countries.

To contact the reporter on this story: May Titthara at [email protected]

MOST VIEWED

  • EU officials: Ending EBA an 18-month procedure

    EU officials have confirmed that it will take a total of 18 months to complete the procedure if Cambodia’s preferential Everything But Arms (EBA) trade agreement is to be withdrawn. According to EU Agriculture and Rural Development spokesman Daniel Rosario, the formal process has not

  • IPU slams government claim

    The president of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), Gabriela Cuevas Barron, has refuted a claim by the National Assembly that she “highly appreciated the achievements of Cambodia” in its July national elections with a tweet saying “Of course not!” before adding “No congratulations”. A delegation from

  • Conflict lingers on Paris Accords

    As the Kingdom prepares to commemorate on October 23 the 27th anniversary of the signing of the 1991 Paris Peace Accords, which ushered in an end to nearly two decades of civil war, there is political conflict on whether the tenets of the agreement are still being

  • EU agrees VN trade deal despite rights concerns

    The EU on Wednesday agreed to a free-trade agreement (FTA) with Vietnam, a country described as having a “major rights-abusing government”. This comes amid the 28-nation bloc preparing the procedure for a possible withdrawal of Cambodia’s Everything But Arms (EBA) preferential trade agreement on