A haul of luxury Thnong timber logged from inside the protected Virachey National Park that was confiscated in Stung Treng province on Sunday was more than 60 cubic meters over the permitted amount, authorities said Thursday.
The three trucks belonging to a private company were found to be carrying 121 cubic meters of wood when the company’s permitted haul is 53 cubic meters, said Nou Hour, the chief of the provincial anti-drug police.
The trucks had been stopped as they passed through Stung Treng City as police suspected that they were carrying more wood than legally permitted.
Provincial forestry administration deputy chief Chean Yudong said Thursday that the wood is now being stored at his office and would be sold off soon to “collect money for the state budget.”
Mr. Yudong declined to comment on whether the wood will be going to the Try Pheap Company. The company obtained the exclusive right to collect nearly 5,000 cubic meters of confiscated luxury timber, from provinces across the country, after paying the government $3.4 million for the privilege last year.
Chey Sith, chief of Try Pheap Group’s head administrative office, said only that the company supported the strong stance from authorities on the illegal transportation of wood.
“We are happy and welcome this confiscation of wood by the authorities as this is an illegal action,” he said.
Hou Sam Ol, provincial coordinator for local rights group Adhoc, said Tuesday that the wood had been sold on to a company in Kandal province’s Takhmao City, where it was being transported when police intercepted it.
He said he did not know the name of the purchasing company.
Mr. Yudong also claimed to not know the name of the company but said “the truck drivers told us that this company was based in Phnom Penh.”
Although the 330,000-hectare Virachey National Park is ostensibly protected, illegal loggers still commonly cut down its rosewood trees, which can be sold for exorbitant prices.
In the provinces, one cubic meter of Thnong wood can fetch up to $800. Prices are even higher in Phnom Penh and Vietnam.