Ratanakkiri Villagers Decry Gov’t Logging

Villagers in Ratanakkiri prov­ince’s Voeun Sai district are opposed to renewed logging in their area to provide 10,000 cubic meters of wood for the new Na­tion­al Assembly building, human rights and environmental workers said Wednesday.

On April 22, about 100 villagers from Khuon village in Voeun Sai dis­trict’s Koh Peak commune said they did not want any company to log or transport old wood from their area, said Pen Bonnar, prov­incial coordinator of local rights group Adhoc.

Pen Bonnar said many other villages were also against the logging concession. “[The government] has ordered 10,000 cubic meters cut but our communities are afraid 20,000 or 30,000 cubic meters will be cut,” he said.

In addition, environmental groups based in Ratanakkiri prov­ince alleged on Wednesday that tree cutting has already begun in the area earmarked to supply the As­­sembly timber haul.

“There are some activities of cutting trees in O’Chum district,” said one monitor who requested anonymity. “The logging has been happening for a few days already. And they are constructing a road to go in­side the forest.”

While the exact size of the new logging concession is unknown, of­ficials have confirmed that it is lo­cated on the site of the old 60,000-hectare Hero Taiwan concession, which was canceled in 1999.

The concession encompasses tracts of Voeun Sai, O’Chum and Taveng districts, which NGOs say in­cludes land occupied by several ethnic minority tribes.

Heng Brothers General Man­age­r Huot Radsady, the company awarded the concession, denied that logging had be­gun.

“Our company has not started yet because everything is under the environmental impact assessment stage,” he said Wednesday.

Deputy provincial forestry ad­ministration director You Kan­vimean said he did not know who was cutting the trees. “I thought that maybe it was the local residents,” he said. “Heng Bro­th­ers has not sent any machines into the area yet so how can they cut?”

 

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