Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Trees ‘felled for pepper’

Trees ‘felled for pepper’

Lumber from Pchek trees is loaded onto a vehicle in Battambang’s Phnom Samkos Wildlife Sanctuary earlier this week.
Lumber from Pchek trees is loaded onto a vehicle in Battambang’s Phnom Samkos Wildlife Sanctuary earlier this week. PHOTO SUPPLED

Trees ‘felled for pepper’

Batambang's Phnom Samkos Wildlife Sanctuary is being illegally logged for pepper posts, with brokers bribing environment officers to transport the timber, residents and NGO workers have said.

According to a community member who asked not to be named, while dead trees had previously been used to produce the posts for plantations, the past month has seen a surge in the logging and shredding of resilient Pchek trees.

“Brokers are buying and hauling them out at night on home-made trucks, with about five loads a night,” he said.

Chan Socheat, an operational officer from the Maddox Jolie-Pitt Foundation, said that officials were taking bribes in order to meet the demands of pepper-plantation owners, noting that on Wednesday, he was personally offered a pay-off to turn a blind eye as timber was being transported out of the area.

Forestry officials reportedly receive about $25 per head to give passage to trucks carrying up to 300 posts, with additional fees paid to soldiers and border officials. “They contacted me willing to pay me the same, but I denied the deal,” he said. “Our mission is the opposite of other officials’. I come here to protect the forest.”

However, one local Forestry Administration official accused of taking bribes, Chhay Sareth, denied the existence of tree-felling on a large scale or related extortion. “Some villagers transport 20 to 30 posts via tractor, therefore we allow them to go freely without asking for any money,” he said.

The director of Kampong Lapov environment station could not be reached for comment, though he has previously refuted allegations of an illegal local timber trade, claiming the logs come from dead trees.

MOST VIEWED

  • Hun Sen: Full country reopening to be decided in two weeks

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has announced that if the Covid-19 situation remains stable for 15 consecutive days from the end of the October 5-7 Pchum Ben public holiday, Cambodia will reopen fully, albeit in the context of Covid-19 whereby people have to adjust their lives to

  • Cambodia sets new Covid-19 quarantine rules

    The government has modified Covid-19 quarantine requirements, shortening the duration for, among others, Cambodian officials, foreign diplomats and delegations, investors and inbound travellers in general. According to an official notice signed by Minister of Health Mam Bun Heng late on October 16, quarantine length for Cambodian

  • Will Evergrande change the way Chinese developers do business in Cambodia?

    China’s property sector policy has exposed the grim financial condition of real estate developers including those operating in Cambodia, which raises questions over the viability of their projects and business going forward The dark blue netting draping over one of Yuetai Group Co Ltd’

  • Phnom Penh governor: Show Covid-19 vaccination cards, or else

    Phnom Penh municipal governor Khuong Sreng late on October 5 issued a directive requiring all people aged 18 and over and the parents of children aged 6-17 to produce Covid-19 vaccination cards when entering schools, markets, malls, marts, eateries and other business establishments that have been permitted

  • Cambodia seeks probe into 'false reports' on Hun Sen's alleged Cypriot passport

    Minister of Justice Koeut Rith on September 6 wrote a letter to his Cypriot counterpart Stephie Dracos requesting cooperation in investigating and providing the truth in relation to the "exaggerative and false allegations" that Prime Minister Hun Sen holds a Cypriot passport. In his letter, the

  • 'Pandora Papers' expose leaders' offshore millions

    More than a dozen heads of state and government, from Jordan to Azerbaijan, Kenya and the Czech Republic, have used offshore tax havens to hide assets worth hundreds of millions of dollars, according to a far-reaching new investigation by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (