Forestry Crimes Decrease by 9 Percent in 2015, Report Says

Forestry crimes fell by around 9 percent last year compared to 2014, according to an annual report released by the Ministry of Agriculture on Friday.

“For 2015, there were 2,189 cases related to forestry, wildlife and encroachment on state forest land,” the report says. “There were 1,546 cases sent to the court and fines issued in 643 smaller cases.”

In 2014, the ministry reported 2,400 cases of forestry crimes, which included illegal logging, hunting protected wildlife and crimes committed against forestry officials.

“In 2015, 996 cubic meters of logs, 470 cubic meters of sawn timber, 113 cubic meters of Kra Nhung rosewood, 4,018 kilograms of wildlife material, 2,709 hectares of state forest land was cleared and 486 chainsaws were confiscated,” the report says.

The ministry reported during the previous year, 1,754 cubic meters of logs, 5,617 cubic meters of sawn timber and 1,117 cubic meters of Kra Nhung luxury grade timber was confiscated.

Am Sam Ath, technical coordinator for rights group Licadho, said forestry crimes persist because of a lack of transparency among law enforcement agencies.

“We have seen that authorities have cracked down on small cases related to villagers, but big companies and powerful people are still cutting and exporting timber,” he said.

Further reductions in forestry-related crimes were among the goals outlined in the Agriculture Ministry’s report.

“We will do more to cooperate with expert authorities, the media and prosecutors to ensure effective law enforcement and transparency,” it says.

Forestry administration officials said they could not comment on the figures and referred questions to ministry spokesmen, but two spokesmen referred questions back to administration officials.

In January, Prime Minister Hun Sen announced the creation of a new task force tasked with putting an end to the rampant illegal logging and timber smuggling taking place in the northeast.

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