“Us locals cannot source benefits from the forest anymore, only the Oknhas can find benefits in the forest now,” Samnang* said one afternoon in January, using a Khmer word for tycoons.
His farm sits on the eastern banks of the Sekong River, in Siem Pang, a district of Cambodia’s northeastern Stung Treng province, which shares a border with Laos. Behind his small patch of land, a vast canopy of green stretches out as far as the horizon, with densely forested mountains rising against the skyline.
Samnang pointed to faraway trails of smoke, the white wispy plumes the only indicator from the ground of human activity deep within the jungle. But Samnang and others living along the riverbank say they’ve been aware of the industrial logging operation for months.