Gov’t Seizes Hundreds of Logs Inside Ratanakkiri Sanctuary

Environment officials in Ratanakkiri have over the past 10 days confiscated more than 500 pieces of valuable Sokrom wood found stockpiled throughout the province’s Lumphat Wildlife Sanctuary by illegal loggers, officials said Sunday.

Chou Sopheak, director of the provincial environment department, said the first-grade timber was discovered in piles “everywhere” in the 250,000-hectare sanctuary, which is overseen by the Environment Ministry.

“I ordered the director of the Lumphat Wildlife Sanctuary to collect the confiscated wood…because we need to make a report to the environment minister so the ministry can prepare the wood to be put up for bidding,” he said.

Mr. Sopheak refused to explain why there would be a bidding process for the logs. A government decree issued last year orders authorities to sell all seized wood exclusively to timber magnate Try Pheap.

Pak Poeu, chief of police in Kon Mom district’s Serei Mongkol commune, said he first saw officials collecting the confiscated wood about 10 days ago, but that when he went to inquire about it, he was snubbed.

“I asked those officials about the trees down on the ground, but they screamed at me and told me, ‘You don’t need to know because this area is under the management of the wildlife sanctuary,’” he said.

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