Huge Wood Haul Sparks Criticism of Forestry Officials

Authorities in Stung Treng province are searching for a group of loggers who stashed more than 200 thick planks of luxury-grade wood in the forest on Wednesday.

Chhoeun Tola, chief of the Forestry Administration’s Stung Treng cantonment, said he and other officials found the 215 pieces of squared-off Thnong wood during a routine patrol in Sesan district.

“We were patrolling in a forest to find loggers, and we found a pile of Thnong wood and took the wood to the Forestry Administration triage in Kbal Romeas commune,” Mr. Tola said, adding that his officials were now looking to arrest those responsible.

Hou Sam Ol, provincial coordinator for rights group Adhoc, said the discovery should not have come as a surprise to authorities, as loggers were decimating Stung Treng’s forests.

“I think the elimination of forest crimes would not be difficult if authorities wanted to do it, but they just stop [loggers] and release them after the loggers and smugglers give them money,” he said.

Mr. Tola refuted Mr. Sam Ol’s accusation.

“This is an accusation without evidence, and we can file a complaint against this social organization [Adhoc],” he said.

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