Gov’t Limits Access to Revised Forestry Plans

Ministry of Agriculture forestry officials have restricted access to revised forestry concession management plans, which outline how private companies will log Cambodian forests for the next quarter century.

The 25-year plans were scheduled to be available May 10 for the public to read or buy photocopies at the public affairs unit at the Forestry Administration office.

But public affairs Director Huot Bunnary said Thursday that no photocopies will be made, be­cause the Cambodian Timber In­dustry Association has threatened to sue if copies are released to the public before the Forestry Ad­ministration gives the plans its final approval.

The restriction makes it ex­tremely difficult for villagers living near concession sites to review the revised plans and ascertain the likely impact on their lives.

The forestry law requires that con­cession plans be publicly disclosed, but Huot Bunnary said it does not specify how.

“Disclosure does not define copy or reading,” he said.

Huot Bunnary said forestry department officials will meet with CTIA next week, but he did not know when or with whom.

He also would not explain why logging companies would take legal action now, when they did not sue after the first draft plans were released in 2002.

He claimed the CTIA letter was from the Samling logging company, which headed the association. But Samling has withdrawn its logging operations from Cambo­dia. The chairman of CTIA is now Lu Chu-Chang of Cherndar Plywood.

Sok Hour, a Cherndar employee, said that Chu-Chang Lu is out of the country and is not expected back before the end of the month.

 

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