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Timber theft is down overall in Prey Lang but perpetrators persist

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Kampong Thom provincial Department of Environment officials seized six homemade tractors and more than three cubic metres of logs on Monday. Environment Ministry

Timber theft is down overall in Prey Lang but perpetrators persist

Officials at the Kampong Thom provincial Department of Environment seized six homemade tractors and more than three cubic metres of logs during a routine operation at three different locations, but the perpetrators escaped.

The provincial environment department director Tob Kakada said on Tuesday that the rangers had patrolled the areas on Monday.

Kampong Thom authorities, Kakada said, regularly patrol the areas in cooperation with other officials to catch timber thieves and prevent deforestation. And while such activities had quietened down, there are still a few who illegally transport logs using tractors.

“We continue regular patrolling, even if the crime rate is reduced. It is our job to take care of our forests.

“Most of the perpetrators run away when they see the authorities and leave their tractors and timber behind. So we have to seize all the evidence and keep it to solve the matter later,” he said.

Hoeung Sopheap, a representative of Prey Lang Forest Community Network (PLCN) in Kampong Thom, said on Tuesday that lately, he and his community in the Prey Lang area had not been patrolling like before.

He said officials now required them to register with the Kompong Thom provincial environment department or at the Ministry of Environment first.

However, he said he had received information from the PLCN in four provinces – Kampong Thom, Kratie, Stung Treng and Preah Vihear – that the logging and transport were still happening.

But, he said, timber transportation using home-made tractors, ox-drawn carts and big trucks is rarely seen.

“Logging and timber transportation is still going on and the fine for the crime at this stage seems to be ineffective.

“We call on the relevant ministries to stop using the inter-ministerial fine mechanism and use a stricter law. Violators have been fined, but the logging continued, and the loggers are the same people,” he said.

The ministry reported on Tuesday that rangers from two stations in the wildlife sanctuary on Monday had cooperated to hold two tractors with more than a cubic metre of wood and took the evidence to the Preah Atit station.

The report said rangers at O’Phav were patrolling during the night in the Tuol Kraing village area and seized three mini tractors, carrying more than two cubic metres of timber. The evidence is being kept at the O’ Phav station.

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