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Stung Treng authorities examine seized timber

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Two trucks suspected of transporting unauthorised high-grade woods have been intercepted in Stung Treng province. FRESH NEWS

Stung Treng authorities examine seized timber

Joint forces in Strung Treng province conducted an examination into impounded timber on Thursday after provincial Military Police personnel intercepted two heavy trucks on Tuesday which belonged to a Chinese firm suspected of transporting unauthorised high-grade woods.

Fresh News reported that they were coming from Siem Pang district and halted in Samaki commune.

Leang Seng, the director of the province’s Department of Agriculture, on Thursday said the trucks had transported the timber with a permission letter which he signed on Tuesday.

However, he noted that there had been cases where the contents of transported goods did not match what was specified in the letter.

“The investigation is executed in accordance with the proper procedures. The company has a permit to transport timber, but there can be a conflict between the specifications of woods it carried and what is stated in the letter,” he said.

The letter, seen by The Post on Thursday, allows the trucks to transport over 35 cubic metres from the firm’s sawmill to Preah Sihanouk province.

Leang Seng said the timbers are made of first-grade and second-grade woods, while some others are of low-quality ones.

Seng continued that there had been internal conflicts within the company, resulting in the submissions of lawsuits.

The company had also been authorised by the government to replant the forest, he said.

The commander of the provincial Military Police Oeung Vandy declined to comment.

Hou Sam Ol, Stung Treng provincial coordinator for rights group Adhoc, identified the firm as Siemon (Cambodia) Agricultural Comprehensive Development Co Ltd but was unaware of further details.

The little-known Chinese company invested $200 million last year in a massive timber plantation in Stung Treng that the government has equated to “replanting the forest”.

The scheme, backed by the provincial government, involved replanting nearly 27,000ha of purportedly “degraded” forestland in Siem Pang district with fast-growing acacia and eucalyptus trees.

The authorities billed the project as an eco-friendly way to restore forestland that was felled by a previous owner, Green Sea Agriculture Co Ltd, owned by Mong Reththy.

Separately, Pursat province’s Military Police personnel carried out a clampdown on illegal logging and transportation of unauthorised forest products on Tuesday.

The unit wrote on Facebook on Thursday saying that the operation saw 150 planks of woods equivalent to 6,537 cubic metres confiscated but the individual responsible for the act managed to flee.

The evidence was handed to the provincial Fisheries Administration for further legal procedures, they said.