In an effort to end clearing in Prey Long forest by a Vietnamese rubber company, villagers living around the area said they were preparing a campaign of petitions.
About 400 ethnic Kuy villagers staged a three-day protest in Kompong Thom province in February demanding that CRCK stop clearing the forest, but the demonstration was brought to an end by security forces.
Chheang Vuthy, a villager representative from Kompong Thom province’s Sandan district, said yesterday that on April 19 villagers would send letters to the Ministries of Agriculture, Environment and to the National Assembly, Senate, Anticorruption Unit, Prime Minister Hun Sen’s Cabinet and regional lawmakers.
“We will have at least 1,000 thumbprints printed in a letter for one ministry,” he said. “We will submit our letters to the lawmakers representing four provinces, including Kompong Thom province.”
Since the protests, Mr Vuthy said that CRCK had not ceased clearing the forest, cutting down about 1,000 resin trees through April 2, after about 2,000 trees were cut down prior to March.
“I understand that government officials at provincial, district, and commune levels, think that Prey Long has no value for them,” he said. “If the government doesn’t stop this company from clearing forest in Prey Long, villagers will struggle to continue their advocacy.”
Prey Long forest, where villagers collect non timber products for a living, covers parts of Kompong Thom, Stung Treng, Preah Vihear and Kratie provinces. At 250,000 hectares, Prey Long is the largest remaining lowland evergreen forest in Southeast Asia, but it is not an officially protected area.
The firm CRCK started cutting timber in Prey Long after receiving a 6,000-hectare rubber concession in 2009.
Chhun Chhorn, Kompong Thom provincial governor denied that thousands of resin trees have been cut down, saying that provincial authorities will request the government to stop CRCK if the information proves true.
“It’s impossible…because thousands of trees are too much,” he said.
“If there is such destruction, I will request the government stop the company immediately.”