The Environment Ministry was not informed of the origin of a consignment of rare timber species transported this week from an area designated a wildlife sanctuary, Environment Minister Mok Mareth said April 4.
Police in Pursat province’s Veal Veng district also said April 4 that an accident in a convoy carrying the timber had left one man dead and two others injured.
Mok Mareth said the Forestry Administration had the right to authorize the shipment of timber anywhere in Cambodia but should have informed his ministry of the origin of the wood leaving the sanctuary.
“Normally under the law the Forestry Administration should identify the source of the timber,” he said, declining to comment further.
In a Feb 25 letter obtained this week, Duong Phang, chief monk of Prek Praing pagoda in Kandal province’s Ponhea Leu district, requested permission from Prime Minster Hun Sen to transport 80 cubic meters of Koki timber from Pursat province’s Anlong Reap commune to his pagoda.
The timber was donated or purchased in Anlong Reap commune, and is destined to beautify a new pagoda being built in Koh Kong province’s Sre Ambel district though, as the pagoda has no fence, the wood is to be stored at the Kandal province pagoda, according to the letter.
Anlong Reap commune, however, falls within the 334,000-hectare Phnom Samkos Wildlife Sanctuary where logging is prohibited and for which the Environment Ministry is responsible.
Forestry Administration Director Ty Sokhun, who requested approval for the shipment in a March 3 letter, said Friday that villagers in the commune donated the wood to the monk.
“[Chief Monk Duong Phang] said that villagers gave him alms. It is related to religious interests,” Ty Sokhun said.
Duk Lon, deputy police chief in Veal Veng district, said a collision late Tuesday evening among the five trucks transporting the wood had killed a passenger, Hoy Men, while driver Heang Sokchea and a passenger identified as Nak were being treated for injuries at a Phnom Penh hospital.
Duong Phang could not be reached this week however Sorn Dinath, acting chief monk at Maha Naney Neranh Raream Nivet pagoda in Sre Ambel district, which is ultimately to receive the consignment, said the timber had been delivered to Kandal province and was awaiting shipment to Koh Kong.
(Additional reporting by Pin Sisovann)