For­est ac­tivists is­sue damn­ing re­port of log­ging at Prey Lang

The Phnom Penh Post - - NATIONAL - Soth Koem­soeun

AC­TIVIST groups from four prov­inces jointly pub­lished a re­port show­ing that 41 per cent of new tree stumps at the Prey Lang Wildlife Sanc­tu­ary that was recorded over the last two years were the re­sult of il­le­gal log­ging.

The 7th Prey Lang Mon­i­tor­ing Re­port by the Prey Lang Com­mu­nity Net­work – a grass­roots move­ment work­ing to pre­serve Prey Lang For­est – was a col­lab­o­ra­tive ef­fort be­tween ac­tivists from Kratie, Kam­pong Thom, Preah Vi­hear and Stung Treng prov­inces.

The il­le­gal log­ging data pub­lished in the re­port was col­lected be­tween Septem­ber 1, 2017, and May 31, 2018, us­ing a smart­phone app called Prey Lang App.

It showed that 41 per cent of stumps recorded in the sanc­tu­ary dur­ing that pe­riod were the re­sult of il­le­gal log­ging, while 24 per cent of tim­ber col­lected and hauled was done so il­le­gally.

The re­port said il­le­gal log­ging ac­tiv­i­ties con­tin­ued at a “con­cern­ing rate” over the last few years, re­sult­ing in the loss of wild an­i­mals and the for­est.

Kam­pong Thom prov­ince’s Prey Lang com­mu­nity co­or­di­nat­ing com­mit­tee mem­ber, Hoeun Sopheap, said the re­port was the re­sult of di­rect pa­trols by ac­tivists. He said that Prey Lang Com­mu­nity Net­work and Copen­hagen Univer­sity jointly in­vented the app in or­der to col­lect the data.

Preah Vi­hear prov­ince’s Prey Lang com­mu­nity co­or­di­nat­ing com­mit­tee mem­ber Srey Thei ex­pressed con­cern over the weak­nesses in law en­force­ment at the sanc­tu­ary.

“We see it al­most ev­ery day . . . il­le­gal log­gers in Prey Lang Wildlife Sanc­tu­ary . . . but they are never pun­ished by the au­thor­i­ties. We want the gov­ern­ment to strengthen law en­force­ment and en­sure that il­le­gal log­gers will be pun­ished for de­for­esta­tion ac­tiv­i­ties,” he said.

How­ever, Min­istry of En­vi­ron­ment spokesman Neth Pheak­tra hit back at the ac­tivists on Sun­day, claim­ing it was “pol­lut­ing in­for­ma­tion” in or­der to find more fund­ing for their projects this year.

Pheak­tra said the group up­dated old data and in­cluded only neg­a­tive points in the re­port to “de­stroy the peo­ple’s trust in the gov­ern­ment”.

He con­tin­ued that the Cam­bo­dian gov­ern­ment and the min­istry have taken tough mea­sures against forestry and wild an­i­mal crimes. Forestry crimes, he said, de­clined last year by some 30 per cent com­pared with 2017.

Pheak­tra said the group’s claims that they are re­quired to ask for per­mis­sion be­fore pa­trolling the for­est is un­true.

“The Min­istry of En­vi­ron­ment at Prey Lang Wildlife Sanc­tu­ary have co­op­er­ated with Prey Lang Com­mu­nity Net­work for joint pa­trols in or­der to help them and pro­tect them from armed crim­i­nals,” he said.

Prey Lang Wildlife Sanc­tu­ary was es­tab­lished in May 2016 and cov­ers 431,683ha across Stung Treng, Kratie, Kam­pong Thom, and Preah Vi­hear prov­inces.

www.ph­nom­penh­post.com

PREY LANG COM­MU­NITY NET­WORK

The re­port says 41 per cent of stumps recorded in the Prey Lang Wildlife Sanc­tu­ary be­tween Septem­ber 1, 2017 and May 31 this year were the re­sult of il­le­gal log­ging.

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