Nine illegal loggers in Kampot province’s Bokor National Park signed contracts Monday agreeing to cease their small-scale operations, local officials said.
The nine men, all in their 30s, agreed to stop their illegal activities within seven days of signing the contract and also hand over a total of 10 chainsaws, said Kong Bunrea, chief of Prek Tnort commune, which is in Kampot district.
“Although their businesses were small-scale…they definitely destroyed big trees in Bokor National Park and other natural resources in the protected jungle,” Kong Bunrea said Tuesday.
“They will face serious prosecution for illegal deforestation…in the future if they break their promises in the signed contract,” he added.
Kong Bunrea said that they had called 10 men to the Monday meeting, who had been identified in complaints filed by members of the community. Only nine attended the meeting, he said, adding that there are still many illegal loggers at work in the area.
Lor Chhean, 60, Prek Tnort commune chief, said Wednesday that he has received multiple complaints about illegal loggers.
“Our community found that hundreds of trees in Bokor National Park have been cut by individuals for commercial logging purposes,” he said. “We also discovered dozens of chainsaws that have been used by those men for a long time.”
Lor Chhean said illegal fishing is also a big problem in the area and officials are trying to gather hard evidence in order to be able to file an official complaint.
Chay Uterith, director of Bokor National Park, declined to talk with a reporter Tuesday and Wednesday, saying he was busy in a meeting.
Kong Bunrea said there is another meeting scheduled for Friday at which they will also discuss illegal fishing.
Kampot’s provincial fishery chief, Pa Sarin, confirmed Tuesday that he would attend the meeting Friday, but declined to comment further.