Mondulkiri provincial governor Svay Sam Eang urged officials and local authorities to intensify efforts to prevent forest crimes and illegal logging as these activities have increased.

Sam Eang convened a meeting on May 11 to assign a working group to execute existing measures to prevent forest and natural resources crimes and illegal logging.

The meeting was attended by six deputy governors, commanders from the three branches of the armed forces, directors of relevant departments and governors of five districts.

Deputy provincial governor Cheak Meng Heang told The Post on May 11 that the working group would support the existing district and provincial committees.

Meng Heang said when a crime such as active deforestation was in progress, authorities could arrest the perpetrators, seize evidence and send the case to court.

He said once forest land has been encroached, authorities would prohibit people entering the area or build structures. Authorities would search for and catch perpetrators and build a case against them.

“There has been small-scale logging for a long time in the forest. But now we see larger clearing. So, we must strengthen our forces to prevent such crimes. We let district joint forces lead the operation to search for people behind the crime," he said.

Kreung Tola, a coordinator for the provincial Indigenous People Network, told The Post on May 11 that forestry crime in Mondulkiri had persisted and timber had been transported out by luxury cars to avoid catching the authorities’ attention.

“In Mondulkiri, [law enforcement] happens like straw fire. Thus, law enforcement at the local level is piecemeal. It is not proper law enforcement, so we can see that forestry crimes still occur. Deforestation is still happening.

“But when people cut down trees for rice fields to feed their families, they will be caught every day,” he said.