The Rovieng Forestry Administration in Preah Vihear province ordered four people to sign a contract to stop clearing a community forest in Reabroy commune in Rovieng district.
Chey Setha, Rovieng district Forestry Administration director, said on Wednesday that on Tuesday morning, his officials and 10 community members patrolled the community forest in the commune and witnessed the forest having been cleared in many locations, but the loggers were not in sight.
He said the patrollers went further ahead and noticed four people clearing other parts of the forest.
The same day, Setha called the four to his office for questioning. They confessed to being members of the community forest and had cleared some 10ha for farming.
They were educated about the forest law and made to sign contracts promising not to repeat their illegal activities, and then released.
“We ordered each of them to sign a contract to stop their activities and return the land for communal use, not individual,” Setha said. He added that each of them cleared a few hectares.
Contacts for the four people could not be found for comment on Wednesday.
Lor Chann, the provincial coordinator for right groups Adhoc, said parts of community forest in the province had been cleared by villagers, and the rich and the powerful.
Hence, he supported the crackdown but noted that so far, the authorities only acted against ordinary people, but rarely cracked down on the rich and powerful.
“The authorities do not dare to crack down on crimes committed by the rich and powerful. The authorities must be transparent and take firm action against them,” he said.