The National Committee for Forest Crime Prevention yesterday announced new strict measures in which authorities would destroy any tools used by people involved in illegal acts.
According to a press release from the National Committee for Forest Crime Prevention, illegal logging and transportation of illegally obtained timber continue to happen despite persistent dissemination of information, education and crackdowns on forestry crimes.
“In order to preserve the forest, we will implement all measures, including strict legal measures, on individuals or companies that are involved in the crimes,” it noted. “And as for the tools and means involved in carrying out forest crimes, we will ask authorities to destroy them on the spot immediately.”
Brigadier General Eng Hy, spokesman of the National Military Police and the National Committee for Forest Crime Prevention, said forestry crimes and illegal logging have occurred mostly in northeastern provinces.
“Previously, when officials cracked down on the crimes, we educated people who committed minor offences such as transporting timber by a van, motorcycle or a two-wheeled tractor, and asked them to sign a contract promising to stop such activities, but they still continued to commit it,” Big Gen Hy said.
“So now we will implement stricter measures, and ask authorities to destroy on the spot any of the tools involved in the crimes,” he added.
Brig Gen Hy also called on all levels of authorities to partake in implementing the measures effectively.
“I would like to call on all authorities to join together in enforcing the strict measures,” he said. “I also appeal to all to not commit illegal logging and to do legal work instead in order to protect the environment and act on climate change together.”
Hoeun Sopheap, a representative of the Prey Lang Community Network and a forest activist, lauded the committee’s strict measures, which he expected to be an effective deterrent an dprevent forest crimes.
“The measure is also in line with the request of our community,” he said. “If the tools or means are confiscated and destroyed on the spot, it will make perpetrators afraid, because a car or motorcycle is expensive and it will make it difficult to transport timber from deep in the forest.”
Mr Sopheap also asked the committee and all relevant authorities to implement the measure effectively.
“I am also worried, as the committee has previously made announcements but the implementation has not been effective,” he said. “So, if it is enforced, I think the new measure will be able to prevent forest crimes.”
In December 2016, the government decided to set up the National Committee for Forest Crime Prevention to prevent and crackdown on natural resources offences such as illegal logging, timber transportation and export across the country.
The committee is also responsible for investigating and searching for perpetrators and arrest offenders as well as confiscate evidence and prepare cases to be brought to court.