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Sanctuary ravaged for timber: rights group

Sanctuary ravaged for timber: rights group

4 illegal logging
Rights group Adhoc is calling on authorities to investigate allegations of illegal logging at a Ratanakkiri wildlife sanctuary. Photo Supplied

Three companies with economic land concessions in Ratanakkiri province have allegedly been logging a wildlife sanctuary since late last year, resulting in the loss of thousands of protected trees and the livelihoods of dozens of families.

Human Rights group Adhoc investigated the case yesterday morning in Kon Mom district, interviewing more than 20 families and local authorities.

“Three companies, Daun Penh Agrico Co, Hoang Anh Andong Meas Co and Hoang Anh Lumphat Co, have been logging premium timber in the sanctuary,” Adhoc co-ordinator Chhay Thi said, adding that villagers recorded video of the illegal logging as proof.

Adhoc has sent a report to national authorities and is requesting an investigation into the logging at Lumphat Wildlife Sanctuary, he said.

The companies were granted economic land concessions of between eight and 10 thousand hectares in 2011 for investments in agro-industry and rubber plantations.

Community representative Chan Naruon said that thousands of trees were illegally felled, including those that 20 families used for resin tapping.

“We got resin from the trees for years to live, until they were logged earlier this year. The company compensates us with $2 for a big tree,” she said, adding that her family had 600 trees, while others had 100 to 200.

Sre Angkrang commune chief Chhoem Sokhim said villagers had informed him of the logging, but he was yet to visit the scene.

“Some parts of the Lumphat Wildlife Sanctuary were reserved for companies, but I don’t know how much. Although the logging happened, I could not protect it,” he said, declining to comment further.   

Provincial governor Nab Bunheng acknowledged areas of the sanctuary were granted to companies, but said authorities had assessed the effects on villagers and the environment and found them negligible.