Illegally Cut Timber Confiscated in Siem Reap

Officials confiscated 150 cubic meters of illegally cut timber from a warehouse in Siem Reap district, Siem Reap province on Tuesday, a forestry official said.

The raid is the latest in a series of crackdowns on illegal logging in the Northwest that started last month. Eight-hundred cubic me­ters of illegal lumber, seven trucks and 13 Nissan pickups have been seized since last month, said Vann Sophanna, chief inspector for the Northern Tonle Sap Lake Region at the Ministry of Agriculture.

Forestry officials are cooperating with police and RCAF soldiers to scout warehouses, border areas and roads for illegal timber, Vann Sophanna said.

Three trucks with loads of illegal lumber bound for Banteay Meanchey province were confiscated Dec 24 in Oddar Mean­chey’s Anlong Veng district, Vann Sophanna said. He said an Oddar Meanchey deputy police chief shipped the truckloads from Trapaing Prasat district.

“We have to take action on whoever illegally transports timber,” Vann Sophanna said.

On the same day, forestry officials destroyed four sawmills that had been operating inside a for­ested area of Trapaing Prasat.

Men Ly, deputy police chief for Oddar Meanchey, said Tuesday that the three truckloads of timber were not intended for sale but to build police offices, a warehouse for keeping guns donated by the villagers and a detention room  in the Samraong district.

Vann Sophanna said the confiscated timber will be put up for auction. He said the crackdown has been successful in quelling illegal log­ging in the region, which includes Kompong Thom, Siem Reap, Preah Vihear, Oddar Mean­­­chey and Banteay Mean­chey provinces, and enforcing a moratorium that went into effect in January 2002.

As a result of the moratorium, local furniture makers say the cost of timber has more than doubled, jumping from $300 to more than $700 per cubic meter. They have appealed to the government to provide them with adequate timber.

(Ad­dit­ional reporting by Porter Barron)


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