World Bank: ‘Desperate Situation’ for Forestry

The recently released World Bank-funded review of logging con­ces­sionaires in Cambodia echoes pre­­vious reports on commercial logging, noting that companies have largely ignored ecological surveys and have poorly addressed the concerns of villagers.

The strongly-worded review, which focuses on four concessionaires’ forest management plans, states that there is a “desperate situation” for forestry in Cambodia and that without essential changes to the country’s logging policy there is little chance for a sustainable forestry concession system.

“Forestry is on the crossroads in Cambodia—this is not really new to say,” reads the review, written by the GFA Consulting Group.

Concession firms Timas, TPP, Cherndar and Colexim were surveyed for the review, a copy of which was obtained Friday.

“Many good proposals for action have emerged during the last one and a half years, and a policy is in place that would support most of the proposed action. However, there is a lack of firm action,” the re­port states.

“We feel it is high time for concrete decisions to be taken,” the re­port sates

The review adds that there is no evidence that biodiversity surveys have been conducted seriously by any of the concessionaires.

A spokeswoman for the World Bank defended its role in the for­estry sector against criticism last week by Global Witness, the government’s former forestry monitor, who accused the bank of funding costly reviews but not following up on their recommendations.

“As we have said before, with the earlier reports assessing the concession system and concessionaire performance in Cambodia, the Bank’s involvement has been to help the government improve the way the concession system was functioning,” Kimberly Versak, head of the external affairs office for the World Bank in Bangkok, wrote in an e-mail message.

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