The ousted forestry monitor Global Witness may be replaced by the end of June with a new organization charged with overseeing Cambodia’s forestry sector and reporting to the international donor community, according to Mogens Christensen, resident representative of the Danish International Aid Agency.
Christensen, working with others in the donors’ Working Group on Natural Resource Management, said Thursday that a list of prospective replacements has been circulated among donors and forwarded to the Ministry of Agriculture for consideration.
The ministry will soon ask possible replacements to submit proposals for working as the new monitor, he said.
“The selection of a new independent monitor is planned to be completed by June,” Christensen said. And though the search should have begun earlier, he added, “this is a good process. The government is doing what the donors have been talking about.”
Global Witness was fired, effective Tuesday, after the director of the Department of Forestry and Wildlife, Ty Sokhun, chastised the organization for critical reports, whipping up anti-government sentiment and, in his view, overstating the number and severity of forest crimes in Cambodia.
The absence of a functioning forest monitor has led the World Bank to suspend a $15 million credit from the Royal Cambodian Government until a replacement is found. The necessity of having a monitor was made clear four years ago when donors demanded the government hire a watchdog to stop the outbreak of illegal logging that threatened to empty Cambodia’s forests.
Companies under consideration include major international auditing firms such as KPMG, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Ernst and Young and the French GS Societe General de Surveillance. Also up for consideration are environmental groups Greenpeace and the lesser-known Global Forest Watch and Forest Monitors.
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