Gov’t, Environmental Groups To Cooperate on Land Concession

The Forestry Administration will cooperate with environmental groups to begin marking off a 5,700-hectare land concession in protected areas of Pursat province, so that a company can begin clearing forest in preparation for the construction of a hydropower dam, officials said.

During a meeting last week be­tween Forestry Administration Deputy Director Chea Samang and representatives from Flora and Fauna International and Conser­vation International, it was decided that together they would demarcate large sections of the Central Card­a­mom Protected Forest and Phnom Samkos Wildlife Sanctuary, CI Country Director Seng Bunra said on Tuesday.

“We agreed to mark the area, and [FFI] are now working on a plan to mark the area and who will pay for the costs. After we demarcate, we will make sure that all the workers are cutting wood inside the reservoir area,” Mr Bunra said.

Environmental groups on June 10 expressed concerns over the lack of clear boundaries outlined in a massive logging concession in the area of the Stung Atay dam amid reports that rare luxury wood spe­cies were being felled outside the allowed area.

Forestry Administration Director Ty Sokhun, who had denied the reports of alleged illegal logging in Phnom Samkos, confirmed on Tuesday that his officials had met with environmental groups. Mr Sok­hun declined to discuss details of the meeting.

The concession to clear the forest in Phnom Samkos where the reservoir will be located was granted to the MDS firm on May 4, and the company started clearing the forest shortly after.

According to the agreement, MDS is only allowed to clear forest in the area where the future Stung Atay dam reservoir will be constructed to prevent rotting trees from contaminating the water.

FFI Country Director Emily Woodfield confirmed Monday that the organization is working on a plan to demarcate the sprawling concession area, but said she could not give details about the meeting.

“The meeting was successful, and FFI and CI are working with the Forestry Administration and the company to actually start the pro­cess of demarcation,” Ms Wood­field said.



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