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?”