Villagers in Ratanakkiri province’s Lumphat district say illegal logging is continuing inside the Lumphat Wildlife Sanctuary despite a lawsuit filed in July accusing seven officials of ignoring forest crimes in the protected area.
Ouch Khana, a 28-year-old ethnic Tumpuon villager from Samut Krom village, in Seda commune, said he saw three men using chainsaws to clear forest at the base of Art Mountain while herding cattle on Wednesday, estimating that about 6 hectares had already been logged, in addition to the 800 hectares that villagers reported last month.
“They are illegally clearing the wildlife forest for their private ownership,” Khana said.
But Kouk Soeung, a deputy commune chief, said police and environmental officers could not find the newly cleared forest area.
“The roads in the area are very difficult to walk and to look for cleared forest,” Soeung said. “We did not find it. It is very quiet and we did not hear any chainsaws.”
But villager Chhorn Phalla contended that logging is ongoing. “This is the third time that forest crimes have happened [since 2016],” Phalla said.