The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries yesterday stated that last year it cracked down on more than 1,000 cases.
In a report, the ministry said that there were a total of 1,093 cases last year, noting that 582 resulted in fines and 511 were sent to court.
It said the ministry confiscated about 300 cubic metres of timber, 4,818 cubic metres of sawn wood, eleven cubic metres of rosewood, 2,362 wild animals and 1,668 kilograms of forestry products.
“The authorities are still working hard to strengthen law enforcement and regulations, such as by monitoring activities and taking action to eliminate forestry crimes,” the ministry said.
Sea Ra, deputy director-general of the ministry’s forestry administration, said the number of cases last year decreased when compared to 2017.
“Most of the crimes were small; timber was transported via tuk-tuk and motorcycles,” Mr Ra said. “The cases were different compared to the big crimes in the past, with larger amounts.”
He added that the ministry will continue to cooperate with institutions and sub-national administrations to strengthen law enforcement and crack down on forestry crimes.
According to the ministry report, there were 1,428 cases of forestry crimes in 2017, with 778 ending up in court and the remaining 650 leading to administrative fines.
Cheuy Oudom Reaksmey, director of the Natural Resource Protection Group, said the ministry still needs to monitor and crack down on bigger cases.
“We see that forestry crimes still occur, such as the transportation of timber to Vietnam,” Mr Oudom Reaksmey said. “We are not confident that local officials are actively preventing crimes.”
He added that the government must ensure subordinates of national and local level officials carry out their duties and avoid taking bribes from perpetrators.
Last year, Interior Minister Sar Kheng said he was pushing for an amendment to the Law on Forestry to be done by 2023.
Mr Kheng noted that illegal logging in Mondulkiri province had grown rampant and that an amendment was needed to delegate more power to local authorities.
“The forest protection law does not provide power for competent authorities to curb illegal logging done by some bad people who export Cambodia’s natural resources,” Mr Kheng said at the time.