SIEM REAP-The ongoing logging and export of timber products by Cambodian factions
is threatening the vitality of forests in this northwestern province as well as threatening
the integrity of the Paris peace accords.
"The forests are being threatened by out-of-control logging, especially by the
guerrilla factions who control some parts of the province and do not consider the
quality of the wood products they remove," said Vanth Sophana, manager of the
State of Cambodia Forestry Department in Siem Reap province. The factions might also
be ignoring environmentally-sensitive methods of logging that still preserve the
forests, Vanth added.
About 40 percent of the Siem Reap forests are now logged out. If the pace of the
logging continues, Vanth noted, his department must begin planting replacement trees
in the province.
Vanth made a distinction between the impact of locals foraging for firewood and the
timber industry logging for wood products and construction materials. Burning cleared
forests for farming is also a hazard to the woodlands in Siem Reap, he said.
Because of the high profits available in trading Cambodian timber with foreign nations,
presently Vanth estimates there are 17 to 32 sawmills working overtime in Siem Reap
The State of Cambodia and the Khmer Rouge currently have contracts with foreign countries
to provide timber. A nationwide logging ban is scheduled to go into effect on Dec
31. The Khmer Rouge have indicated that any sanctions against their profit-making
endeavors is a threat to the success of the peace process.