Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Report slams logging in northeast

Report slams logging in northeast

A truck hauls allegedly illegally logged timber up a river bank after it was off loaded from a transport boat in Stung Treng’s Siem Pang district late last year.
A truck hauls allegedly illegally logged timber up a river bank after it was off loaded from a transport boat in Stung Treng’s Siem Pang district late last year. Heng Chivoan

Report slams logging in northeast

National parks and other protected areas are being gutted at a rapid rate in Stung Treng and Ratanakkiri by private business interests, among them the powerful Try Pheap Group, a report launched yesterday claims, though authorities have disputed certain figures.

The report, titled Logs and Patronage: Systematic Illegal Logging and the Destruction of State Forests and Protected Areas in Rattanakiri and Stung Treng Provinces, claims groups in control of government-granted economic land concessions (ELCs) have utilised deep connections to ravage valuable forest for timber and industrial crops such as rubber at an incredible rate.

In 2014 alone, at least 81,000 trees, or 243,000 cubic metres of timber, were taken out of northern Ratanakkiri and Stung Treng provinces, the report estimates.

In Virachey National Park, the report says, at least eight companies have been granted ELCs covering 65,149 hectares, with two Pheap companies accounting for 18,735 of those hectares.

But in spite of this devastating path, researchers claimed that authorities charged with protecting these areas are often the ones paving the way for them to be felled.

“At least 25 institutions, from local to provincial and national level . . . are involved in taking money from logging transporters,” it reads.

Sot Piseth, a representative of the independent researcher group in attendance at the launch, said Try Pheap’s companies, which were the main focus of the report, not only cut down forest, but also purchased luxury wood from smaller landholders.

Tek Vannara, executive director of report publisher the NGO Forum, said that continued pressure on natural resources over the past few years has worsened due to international markets in China, Vietnam and Laos, as well as the conversion of natural forests into plantations.

“It exists because of . . . the timber trade of the big companies, the scale of the regional and international demand for timber and the land grabbing conducted by traders and people in the local area,” he said.

While Try Pheap representatives could not be reached for comment, he has in the past specifically denied his involvement in logging in areas such as Virachey.

On July 10, he sent out a statement saying that the company “does not log and destroy forest illegally in Virachey National Park”.

Furthermore, the Ministry of Environment said on January 6 that Pheap returned his two concessions in the park – though after they had been stripped of luxury timber.

However, while he affirmed his ministry’s willingness to engage in consultation for the future, Srun Darith, Environment Ministry cabinet chief, said many of the numbers in the report, which were collected in 2014, do not reflect the Kingdom’s current situation.

“I want the report to reflect all directions of the situation, both positive and negative, so that we can seek a solution together,” he said, adding that six companies, not eight, had been granted ELCs in Virachey.

Moung Poy, chief of the Ratanakkiri Provincial Council, echoed this sentiment and suggested editing certain figures to make it more official.

MOST VIEWED

  • Cambodia’s image problem

    In opening remarks at a recent event, Secretary of State at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Luy David said information can be a double-edged sword. He told a European Institute of Asian Studies (EIAS) briefing seminar that the media has unfairly presented

  • PM Hun Sen says dangers averted

    Delivering a campaign speech from his home via Facebook Live on Thursday, caretaker Prime Minister Hun Sen said his Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) had carried the country through danger in its latest mandate. He was specifically referring to the threat of a “colour revolution”

  • Kingdom's trade deal with EU questioned before poll

    A European Union (EU) mission met with senior government officials at the Ministry of Interior on Tuesday as the 28-member bloc monitors an agreement under which Cambodian goods reach the crucial European market tariff-free. Some 10 commissioners are in the Kingdom as part of a seven-day

  • A new carrier takes off in capital

    Cambodia Airways, the latest passenger airline to enter the Kingdom, launched its first domestic flight on Tuesday. Flight KR801, carrying 145 passengers, left the Phnom Penh International Airport at 9:50am and landed in Siem Reap at 10:35am in an Airbus A319. Cambodia Airways marketing and branding