Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - RCAF stripping timber from Oral Wildlife Sanctuary: probe



RCAF stripping timber from Oral Wildlife Sanctuary: probe

A truck transports timber through Kampong Speu province in June after it was allegedly removed from Phnom Oral Wildlife Sanctuary. Chea Hean
A truck transports timber through Kampong Speu province in June after it was allegedly removed from Phnom Oral Wildlife Sanctuary. Chea Hean

RCAF stripping timber from Oral Wildlife Sanctuary: probe

Military vehicles are hauling wood from a protected area to be burned as fuel in garment factories, investigators from NGO Wildlife Alliance (WA) have found.

A WA employee, who asked not to be named as they are not authorised to speak to the press, confirmed yesterday that the revelation comes as the product of “days and nights” spent observing trucks with Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF) number plates transporting timber out of the Oral Wildlife Sanctuary to be used as fuel at garment factories.

The Post obtained a copy of a letter dated February 2 and signed by Brigadier General Prom Choeun asking Kampong Speu Provincial Court not to interfere with two RCAF trucks tasked with transporting wood from the sanctuary, citing operational requirements. Prom could not be reached.

Defence Ministry spokesman Chhum Socheat said yesterday that he was unaware of the letter but that some units make use of firewood for cooking, but that to use it for private gain would be illegal.

“We use military trucks only for military operations, not civilian,” he said.

Seng Bunra, country director of NGO Conservation International (CI), said yesterday that RCAF trucks have become notorious for taking wood from the wildlife sanctuary. However, he only became aware it was destined for factories on Monday.

“The army trucks are very active, transporting fuel wood from the Oral Wildlife Sanctuary . . . I learned from Wildlife Alliance yesterday that it’s not really for cooking but maybe [being taken] to garment factories,” Bunra said.

William Conklin, country director for labour rights NGO Solidarity Centre, said it was not the first time he had heard of factories using wood for fuel.

“From my understanding, you could use it for certain things to cut down on energy costs, so possibly drying or anything else where that could be converted into energy,” Conklin said. “Energy prices are very high here; it’s the most expensive part of production.”

Bunra’s conversation with WA took place during a meeting chaired by the Environment Ministry and called by a third NGO, Kampong Speu-based Natural Resource and Wildlife Preservation Organisation (NRWPO), to discuss authorities’ alleged lack of response to forest crimes in the wildlife sanctuary.

NRWPO director Chea Hean yesterday said he was unaware of WA’s findings but that he had observed several trucks laden with wood leaving the sanctuary.

“Several heavy trucks are transporting firewood every night, each loaded with up to 30 cubic metres of timber,” Hean said, adding trees had been logged in the park for firewood since 2006. “Such cargo absolutely violates the law on wildlife sanctuaries; if it’s not cracked down on, the forest will completely decimated.”

Sao Sopheap, spokesman for the Environment Ministry, which took control of Cambodia’s protected forests in March, was not reachable.

MOST VIEWED

  • ‘Kingdom one of safest to visit in Covid-19 era’

    The Ministry of Tourism on January 12 proclaimed Cambodia as one of the safest countries to visit in light of the Kingdom having been ranked number one in the world by the Senegalese Economic Prospective Bureau for its success in handling the Covid-19 pandemic. In rankings

  • Ministry mulls ASEAN+3 travel bubble

    The Ministry of Tourism plans to launch a travel bubble allowing transit between Cambodia and 12 other regional countries in a bid to resuscitate the tourism sector amid crushing impact of the ongoing spread of Covid-19, Ministry of Tourism spokesman Top Sopheak told The Post on

  • Courts’ decisions now published as reference source

    The Ministry of Justice has published 44 verdicts from civil litigation cases which can be used as models for court precedents and for study by the public and those who work in pertinent fields. Publication of the verdicts on December 31 came as the result of joint

  • Reeling in Cambodia’s real estate sector

    A new norm sets the scene but risks continue to play out in the background A cold wind sweeps through the streets of Boeung Trabek on an early January morning as buyers and traders engage in commerce under bright blue skies. From a distance, the

  • Quarantine site in north Phnom Penh inaugurated

    A four-building quarantine centre in Phnom Penh’s Prek Pnov district was formally inaugurated on January 6. The centre can house up to 500 people, according to Phnom Penh municipal governor Khuong Sreng. At the inauguration ceremony, Sreng said the municipal hall had cooperated with the Ministry

  • China firm to develop Mondulkiri airport

    Tourism to the Kingdom’s northeast corridor could experience a remarkable metamorphosis after the government decided in principle of a Chinese company to study and develop a proposal to build a regional-level airport in Mondulkiri province, according to industry insiders. The Council of Ministers said