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Government encourages investment in sustainable timber plantations

Chhut Bunthoeun / Khmer Times Share:
Sao Sopheap, secretary of state at the Ministry of Environment. KT/Tep Sony

The government yesterday asked companies to consider investing in timber plantations in the Kingdom that produce sustainable wood, arguing that these investments help protect the country’s natural resources.

Demand for wood is on the rise but few companies are investing in timber plantations in Cambodia, said Sao Sopheap, secretary of state at the Ministry of Environment.

The government is also urging companies to process wood here and export wood products to foreign markets, Mr Sopheap said during a speech at the launch of the ‘Human Development Report 2019: Sustaining Natural Resources for All’ by the United Nations Development Program.

To incentivise firms, the government doesn’t levy taxes on exports of wood and wood products, he added.

“The government now incentivises companies to invest in timber plantations, process wood products, and export abroad through a zero-tax policy,” he said. “We want to see more timber plantations and more wood processing in Cambodia.”

Processing wood from sustainable sources helps protect the environment and creates jobs, he added.

“Our aim is to protect our natural resources,” he said.

Generally speaking, sustainable wood, as compared to any other wood in the market, is obtained legally and gathered in ways that protected other existing trees in the forest, wildlife and the environment in which the wood was harvested.

According to the Ministry of Agriculture, from January to June five local companies exported furniture abroad, while three obtained licences to process wood.

The UNDP report launched yesterday highlights the importance of environmental sustainability for achieving continued economic growth and development in the country.

It is composed of seven chapters that tackle issues like sustainable timber production and sustainable consumption and production of wood-fuel.

Cambodia’s forests are extensive, yet under serious pressure. In 1975, forests stretched over 73 percent of the country, but by 2018, they had shrunk to 46.84 percent, according to the report.

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