National Committee To Decide Forest Dispute

The Mondolkiri provincial committee charged with investi­ga­ting the land dispute between ethnic Phnong villagers and the Wu­zhi­shan LS Group completed its work Wednesday, officials said.

But both sides will have to wait for a final resolution as the provincial report will be sent to a national committee to be decided upon, provincial governor Thou Son said.

The Phnong villagers have al­leged the Chinese plantation company, which was granted a concession by the Council of Min­isters in August, has been planting pine trees on their farmland and de­stroy­ing their spirit forests where family gravesites are located.

For the past few weeks, the provincial committee has been working to determine which land belongs to the Phnong villagers and which to Wuzhishan.

Thou Son said villagers from Sen Monorom commune in O’Reang district asked the provincial committee for 3 km of land sur­rounding their commune, while Dak Dam commune villa­gers in Sen Monorom district re­quested 10 km.

While he described the de­mands from the villagers in Sen Mo­norom commune as “appropriate,” he said the Dak Dam villa­gers were requesting too much.

“The villagers in Sen Monorom commune are not so greedy like the people in Dak Dam,” Thou Son said. “The [Dak Dam re­quest] would reach the [provincial] town.”

The committee was also able to determine how much land Wu­zhi­shan has already planted with pine trees, but refused to re­veal the amount.

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