THE Prey Lang Community Network yesterday claimed that its patrols have found that illegal logging is still rampant in Kratie, Kampong Thom, Stung Treng and Preah Vihear provinces and urged the relevant ministries and authorities to strengthen enforcement.
In a statement released yesterday, PCLN said that their monitors found that from September 2017 to May 2018, illegal logging in these provinces had increased.
It said that the main causes for the increase is that roads have made it easier for illegal loggers to access the forests and that PCLN members are finding it difficult to apply for permits to patrol the forests.
Ek Sovanna, PLCN representative in Kratie province, said yesterday that the group has cooperated with rangers about 25 times to patrol forests in Prey Lang Wildlife Sanctuary.
He said that during the operations, 73 people were detained and evidence of forest crimes and wildlife hunting were seized.
Mr Sovanna said these included 123 chainsaws, 41 home-made guns, 18 two-wheel tractors, five oxen carts, and 847 wildlife traps.
“Logging in the Prey Lang forest still occurs a lot and we also come across criminal activities such as wildlife hunting, trapping and catching monkeys to sell, and also drug paraphernalia left behind in the forest by users,” he said. “We have also found that resin trees have been cut down and this deprives the local community of tapping the resin to sell.”
Hoeun Sopheap, PLCN member in Kampong Thom province, yesterday said that their patrols have found that most of the offenders are locals living near the sanctuary and also migrants from other provinces.
“If the government still neglects cracking down on illegal logging, the forest will be lost,” Mr Sopheap said.
Srey Thy, the network’s Preah Vihear province representative, yesterday said that they have seen illegal loggers in the Prey Lang Wildlife Sanctuary almost daily but they have never been punished by the authorities.
“We want the government to strengthen law enforcement and ensure that the illegal loggers in the future are punished for the deforestation,” he said.
Environment Ministry spokesman Neth Pheaktra yesterday dismissed the network’s statement, saying that the PLCN has been falsifying information to seek funding.
“They use old data as an update to destroy the people’s confidence in the government as well as the Ministry of Environment on the protection and conservation of natural resources in Cambodia,” he said.