Chinese Firms Reveals Plans for Southwest

A Chinese company developing a controversial acacia plantation inside a national park in Koh Kong province has “master plans” for other areas of the southwest, but must first submit an overdue report on its current operations, a spokesman said Tuesday.

Green Rich Co Ltd has already cleared hundreds of hectares of forest inside Botum Sakor Nat­ional Park and plans to expand to other areas in the fu­ture, said Chu Sinphong, a Phnom Penh-based company representative.

“It’s part of the master plan of the company and the Ministry of Environment,” he said Tuesday, refusing to provide further details.

Both the company and the ministry have come under fire for going forward with secretive plans to clear land in an 18,000-hectare lot located in the national park, which is managed by the NGO WildAid.

The Green Rich project is one of many undertaken by foreign companies inside protected areas. The government has defended such projects as eco-tourism within “buffer zones.” Cambodian land law prohibits developments inside protected areas.

Minister of Environment Mok Mareth ordered Green Rich to suspend its operations in May until the company had finished a study on its possible environmental impact, as mandated by law.                         To date, Green Rich has not completed the overdue study, Chay Samith, the ministry’s protected areas chief, said Tuesday.

But forestry watchdog Global Witness reported Tuesday that more land had been cleared and said Green Rich was already guilty of massive environmental damage inside the park.

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