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Questions raised over Apsara Authority's decision to fell tree

People use chainsaws to cut a rosewood tree in Siem Reap on Sunday for transportation. Apsara Authority
People use chainsaws to cut a rosewood tree in Siem Reap on Sunday for transportation. Apsara Authority

Questions raised over Apsara Authority's decision to fell tree

A 100-year-old rosewood tree felled by the Apsara Authority after it was found partially cut was impounded by the Forestry Administration in Siem Reap on Sunday, with a forestry official and an activist questioning the necessity of the move.

The Apsara Authority, which manages the Angkor Archaeological Park, said it cut down the 90-centimetre-thick tree after finding it partially sawn into by others. On its Facebook page, the authority said it removed the tree to prevent it from falling on pedestrians and to ensure that illegal loggers did not succeed in taking the endangered and valuable wood.

However, Tea Kimsoth, director of the Siem Reap Forestry Administration, indicated that it wasn’t necessary to fell the tree, adding that his authorities confiscated the luxury log.

“Logging it was not right, because the cut was only 15 centimetres [deep],” Kimsoth said, adding that forestry officials would be investigating the identity of the individuals who cut into the tree in the first place. “If we find them, we will send them to jail,” the official said.

The tree was at the centre of a site of local worship, according to activist monk But Buntenh, who also said it should not have been cut down because the damage to its trunk was so minor.

“It is so funny for the authorities to say they are afraid criminals will take the timber. How can they steal the timber if the tree is standing?” Buntenh asked. “They should take measures to investigate and find the criminal, not to cut down a tree that people worship.”

He suggested authorities return the log so it can be turned into a statue of the Buddha.

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