Tbong Khmum toughens his voice against illegal timber trade

Cheng Bunnara speaks at a meeting on inspecting timber processing facilities in Tbong Khmum province on December 22. MINISTRY OF INFORMATION

Vice Governor of Tbong Khmum Province Cheng Bunnara ordered district police to identify illegal timber processing facilities in their respective jurisdiction and ask owners to apply for a permit before resuming operations.

Bunnara said that in order to control the activities of illegal timber processing facilities and crack down on illegal timber trade in protected areas, owners of all such facilities must follow the procedure and apply for permits to continue operating.

“We need to inspect facilities, warehouses and craft workshops that are operating without authorization. Some of them secretly process wood from protected areas located in remote areas of the forest, out of sight of the authorities.

“Some of the craft and carpentry workshops produce wooden doors, windows, tables, chairs and beds with wood that they buy from illegal logging companies,” he said.

He added that he plans to lead a joint force to directly inspect all factories suspected of illegal activities and suppression of natural resources and forestry crimes in and near the protected areas of the province.

Bunnara said that for their work to be effective, it must involve the district police, forest rangers and officials from the environment department and forestry administration who must all work together to find the sources of sawn timber and the places where the wood is stored. before being exported and sold to factories.

Pen Bunna, a community empowerment officer for rights group Adhoc, said police should focus on effective law enforcement and impose real consequences on responsible perpetrators to prevent deforestation in Cambodia otherwise all of this work to find those places could go on. for a dozen years without having any appreciable impact.

He noted that companies buying or using wood from illegal logging or sawmills was already a criminal offense and yet all of these places are not new and have been operating all this time, so there must be some kind of corruption. that protects them.

“Such practices are ineffective when the ringleaders go unpunished and continue to repeat their crimes with impunity. It is okay for corrupt officials, traders and artisans to break the law when there are no lasting consequences. Looting them and then fining them or letting them go with a warning just calms things down for a little while and then they start again, ”he said.