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Ministry highlights forestry crime crackdown results

Pech Sotheary / Khmer Times Share:
wild crime
Rangers seize timber cut from a protected area. MoE

The Environment Ministry has highlighted more than 2,000 cases of forestry crimes which ministry officials had uncovered during crackdowns last year, which resulted in the seizure of more than 4,000 illegal wildlife traps.

Ministry spokesman Neth Pheaktra during a press conference on Monday said the government has been successful in cracking down on large-scale forestry crimes and they are now concentrating on smaller ones.

He said small-scale forestry crimes involve transporting illegal forest products, such as logs and wildlife, on motorcycles and hand-tractors.

Mr Pheaktra said officials from the provincial environment departments, directors of protected areas and forest rangers last year cracked down on more than 2,000 offences and seized nearly 10,000 cubic metres of plywood, 800 cubic metres of timber, 695 cubic metres of luxury wood and 4,047 wildlife traps.

He said they also seized 314 vehicles, about 500 chainsaws and 153 handsaws, adding 470 people were made to sign social contracts and 37 were educated.

“Some cases were sent to court,” Mr Pheaktra said, noting some people were suspected of encroaching on state-protected areas in six provinces.

“No one is authorised to occupy, buy or sell land in national parks and other protected areas,” he said. “Citizens must avoid being cheated by brokers or illegal traders because the ministry refuses to recognise [invalid] land documents, whether or not they were recognised by [local authorities].”

The Agriculture Ministry has also highlighted its 2019 crackdown results on forestry and wildlife crimes.

It said on 23rd January, 1,201 cases were uncovered with 598 resulting in fines and 603 being sent to court.

The ministry said it confiscated 397 cubic metres of timber, 2,967 cubic metres of plywood, 4,481 wild animals and 876.80 kilogrammes of bush meat.

It also identified 1,773 hectares of land illegally encroached by citizens in 11 provinces.

Chea Hean, director of the Natural Resource and Wildlife Preservation Organization, yesterday said crackdowns on large-scale forestry and wildlife crimes over the years prompted criminals to move goods on a smaller scale.

He said those who used to transport goods using cars are now using hand-tractors and motorbikes instead, and some local officials still allow the practice.

Mr Hean said effective law enforcement is key.

“The authorities should enforce the law on those officials granting permission to criminals to commit crimes,” he said.

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