Illegal Wood Seized on Sugarcane Plantation

Authorities in Kompong Speu province say they have found a pile of illegally logged wood on a local sugarcane plantation that has previously been caught processing illicit timber, although they have yet to lay blame this time around.

Provincial environment department director Keat Raingsey said on Wednesday that his officers found 10 cubic meters of first- and second-grade wood on the Chinese-owned Yellow Field plantation in Oral district on Tuesday morning. He said rangers watched a truck drop off the wood after exiting the neighboring Cardamom Pro­tected Forest but were too far away to chase it down.

Mr. Raingsey said the wood had since been taken to the headquarters of the Phnom Aural Wildlife Sanctuary, which abuts the protected forest and hosts the Yellow Field plantation.

“We are now investigating be­cause we don’t want to just confiscate the wood; we also want to find the people involved,” he said. “We don’t have enough evidence to prove the wood belongs to the company. But we will call a company representative for questioning because we think the company is probably involved, because the wood was found on the company’s land.”

The department director said company representatives denied ownership of the wood on Tuesday but would be questioned again regardless.

District police chief Buot Bun­thoeun said he had not heard about Tuesday’s timber seizure but added that his officers helped catch Yellow Field laundering about 1,000 pieces of wood through its on-site sawmill last year.

“The company has a license to process wood at the sawmill,” he said. “But we confiscated the wood because they got it from an illegal source and were processing it to make it legal.”

Mr. Bunthoeun said he did not know whether the company was fined or prosecuted for the attempted timber laundering and referred further questions about the case to the provincial environment department, which had led the investigation. But Mr. Raing­sey said he was unaware of the previous case because he was new to the post.

A woman who answered a telephone number listed for Yellow Field said she was aware of Tuesday’s seizure but did not know whether the wood be­longed to the company. She de­clined to give her name, saying she was not authorized to speak to the media and refusing to provide contact information for anyone who was.

The Commerce Ministry variably lists the director of Yellow Field as Yo Jing and Yu Jing.

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