Cambodian Youth Party president Pich Sros yesterday said ministries tasked with preventing deforestation have no regular preventive measures against the crime.
Mr Sros, who is also a member of the Supreme Consultative Council, made the statement after a meeting with Environment Minister Say Sam Al.
According to Mr Sros, Mr Sam Al said the ministry needs local participation in order to target the source of the issue.
“[Mr Sam Al said] the Environment Ministry needs help from the Agriculture Ministry in order to target the licensing for timber transport,” he said. “Illegal logging needs to be targetted also. In order to prevent the destruction of forests, the Environment Ministry must have help.”
Mr Sros said the Environment Ministry has no regular mechanism to prevent forestry crimes.
“According to my subordinates and villagers, the transportation of timber in the eastern provinces is still common,” he said. “I am planning to investigate the transportation of timber along border provinces.”
Mr Sros noted that he will lead a working group to investigate private firms and will submit a report to Prime Minister Hun Sen.
“We will try our best and will submit a report to the government so measures to address the issue can be implemented,” he said, noting that he plans to meet Agriculture Minister Veng Sakhon to address the same problem. “We will show the public how efficient national and sub-national law enforcement agencies are in preventing forestry crimes.”
Mr Sros’ comments were slammed by Environment Ministry spokesman Neth Pheaktra.
“Pich Sros did not understand the facts of the situation and what the ministry has explained – he might not understand,” Mr Pheaktra said. “Pich Sros is not the only one who loves natural resources. We all love natural resources too – that’s why we are sacrificing our lives in order to protect our forests, including its wildlife.”
He noted that the ministry is already cooperating with other institutions and organisations in order to prevent illegal logging.
“Offences remain, but there is a decline in forestry crimes – deforestation is no longer large-scale,” Mr Pheaktra said. “Deforestation is small scale and this is because of the efforts of our rangers and authorities.”
Hoeung Sopheap, a representative of the Prey Lang Network in Kampong Thom province, said illegal logging is not uncommon in the Prey Lang area, despite its designation as protected land.
“The government took measures, but those measures were not effective in preventing deforestation,” Mr Sopheap said, noting that there could be collusion between local authorities and criminals. “We are worried the population of trees will decline because authorities here collude with forest offenders.”