The government has taken further action to stop the Doung Srouch Group from collecting timber on social land concessions across the nation.
The company already had its permission revoked to collect forest by-products in Preah Vihear province last month on a 1,545-hectare social land concession in Choam Ksan district.
Bun Uy, secretary of state with the Council of Ministers, sent a letter to Environment Minister Say Samal on Monday, confirming that the Doung Srouch Group should be stopped from any forestry operations in the country.
“His Excellency [Say Samal] please receive this information and implement it,” he said in the letter.
Mr Uy said by phone yesterday that the order was to stop the company from any activity across the nation.
“The order does not state which province, it is carried out nationwide,” he said. “The social land concession refers to them all, in every province,” he said. “Any people who log and transport timber out will have a problem.”
When the Doung Srouch Group had its permission revoked for its work in Preah Vihear last month, the Ministry of Agriculture and provincial governor said the cessation was ordered because there was no more wood to log, and to prevent bad individuals within the company from conducting illegal logging outside the concession’s boundaries using the company’s name.
On top of the Preah Vihear concession that it had permission to log, the company had also been granted the right to collect forest by-products in Mondulkiri and Rattanakiri provinces in May 2017.
Also last month, Mondulkiri provincial authorities arrested eight Vietnamese nationals for collecting timber products without permission after they used machinery with the Doung Srouch Group logo to cut many trees in the Sre Pok Wildlife Sanctuary.
Ministry of Environment spokesman Srun Darith said the order was to stop the company’s activities nationwide because ministry officials had consulted with provincial authorities and concluded there were no more products for the company to collect and that villagers had planted crops on most of the land.
“The government has stopped this company because we are afraid of opportunists taking advantage of the social land concessions for illegal logging,” he said.
Chea Sam Ang, general director of the natural resources conservation department at the Ministry of Environment, said that the order to further suspend the company’s activities was made in a bid to strengthen the management of natural resources in the area of social land concessions.
“Now it is only this company that has had its activities suspended, but we are looking to suspend other companies as well,” he said. “We will continue to strengthen this work,”
Phok Hok, a forest protection activist in Preah Vihear, lauded the government’s action to stop the activity of the Doung Srouch Group.
Ms Hok said the company’s activities had caused the loss of forests and affected the livelihoods of people living on the social land concessions who were dependent on products made from the forest.
“I think it is good if the government can prevent this company’s work because giving the company permission to do this business in collecting forest by-products and timber has caused forest loss and hurt villagers’ livelihoods,” she said.
Ly Putheara, a representative of the Doung Srouch Group, could not be reached for comment.