Big rosewood haul found hidden in Kratie

Mom Sophon / Khmer Times No Comments Share:
The blocks of wood were found in a rubber plantation. Supplied

More than 48 cubic meters of luxury rosewood has been found in Kratie province’s Snuol district, believed to have been hidden by illegal loggers.
Provincial military police said that all 86 blocks of wood were hidden in a rubber plantation. The discovery was made after an operation ordered by military police commander-in-chief Sao Sokha.
“Our forces cooperated with Mondulkiri provincial military police yesterday and seized a pile of wood that was being hidden in the rubber plantation,” Mr. Sokha said.
“Snuol district forestry officials measured and found 86 blocks of luxury wood equivalent to 48.507 cubic meters along with an Air Blade motorcycle without license plates, two notebooks and a mobile phone.”
Police have yet to identify the culprits who were not at the scene during the discovery but have collected the necessary evidence to pursue an investigation.
Cambodian Human Rights Task Force president and forestry activist Ouch Leng said the seizure was part and parcel of forestry crime prevention work, but urged Mr. Sokha to also go after major traders who sold luxury-grade wood to Vietnam and China.
“I want his Excellency Sao Sokha to use his abilities to crack down on traders who transport luxury wood to Vietnam and China. His Excellency knows who these traders are,” he said.
Prey Lang Community Network representative Hoeun Sopheap said that during his three-day patrol of the forest in Kampong Thom province, he found fewer instances of illegal deforestation, pointing to only seizing one chainsaw when they would have seized up to a dozen chainsaws in the same time frame two years ago.
“I think forestry crimes have largely decreased each year,” Mr. Sopheap said.
“During my three-day patrol in Kampong Thom province, we seized only a single chainsaw and one fish electrocution machine. However, we did hear the sounds of six to seven chainsaws but couldn’t find the offenders.
“I think that the perpetrators are beginning to fear the law. Also, there are community groups working to protect the environment and wildlife too.”
In an attempt to stem illegal logging and forestry crimes, Prime Minister Hun Sen in January 2015 created a well-funded commission armed with two military helicopters to prevent widespread deforestation.
However, despite the commission and a ban on the export of timber to neighboring countries like Vietnam, the trade remained active and thrived in 2016. It was reported that $33 million worth of unprocessed timber was exported to Vietnam, more than double the amount exported in 2015.
Quoting Vietnamese customs data provided by US NGO Forest Trends, a report said that Vietnam imported 139,306 cubic meters of timber from Cambodia compared with the 59,292 cubic meters it imported in 2015 and 460 cubic meters in 2014.

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