Community Network Asks for Help Policing Prey Lang

Chea Takihiro / Khmer Times No Comments Share:
Prey Lang community members speak at a news conference in Phnom Penh yesterday. KT/ Mai Vireak

The Prey Lang  Community Network announced a desire to work with the newly established National Commission for Prevention and Investigation of Illegal Logging during a press conference yesterday. 
Despite the government’s renewed interest in policing illegal deforestation, the Prey Lang Forest Community Network is still concerned about the situation in their forest, which spans four provinces. They have yet to see any action taken against illegal logging by the new national commission, Community Network officials said.
The Community Network asked the government to recognize their organization and approve a national budget for the management of the Prey Lang  in order to police the validity of company claims to land concessions. 
Chea Sokhoeurn, a member of the Prey Lang Community Network in Stung Treng province, wants the commission to take investigative and preventive measures in the forest in addition to checking timber depots of companies suspected of illegal logging. He requested the commission cooperate with the Community Network to gather information about those companies.
Mr. Sokhoeurn recognized that the creation of the new commission has reduced the abilities of large companies to log illegally, but stressed the indirect ways in which they were still threatening protected forests. By buying illegal timber from contractors and then transporting it with legal licenses, companies such as the Try Pheap Group, which Mr. Sokhoeurn said was connected to the illegal logging threatening Prey Lang, were functioning as brokers. 
Representatives from the Try Pheap Group could not be reached for comment yesterday.
Military Police spokesman Eng Hy told Khmer Times the Community Network should write a letter to the national commission requesting cooperation. He welcomed any information they have regarding illegal logging, but said their role would end there. 
“The illegal logging is quiet but we are still finding previously cut timber. If anyone knows about illegal logging, please contact the commission. They can give the information to us but for the investigation they can’t join with us,” he said.
He would not say how many companies are currently under the national commission’s investigation, and added that he hoped the Community Network could help stop deforestation in Cambodia.

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