Cambodia: Illegal Logging in the Wild West?

Illegal logging of staggering proportions abetted by military personnel.

Illegally cut rosewood in Koh Kong Province, Cambodia.

This illegal logging is decimating stocks of luxury rosewood in the Central Cardamom Protected Forest (CCPF), while the conservation group tasked with protecting the area and its government counterparts deny the trade is even happening.

Hugh market prices.

Villagers, loggers and conservationists have verified that Forestry Administration officials, military officers and rangers are making no effort to stop the massive trade in protected rosewood. In many cases, it is alleged, they are actively profiting. The market price for high-quality rosewood is between US$5,000 and $8,000 per cubic meter.

Central Cardamom Protected Forest (CCPF), Cambodia

Central Cardamom Protected Forest (CCPF).

The 402,000 hectare CCPF is one of the largest conservation areas in Cambodia, covering six districts across Koh Kong, Pursat and Kampong Speu provinces.

It is considered to be one of Indochina’s richest conservation areas in terms of biodiversity, with vast numbers of endemic Cambodian flora that supports populations of pangolin, Asian elephants, Siamese crocodiles and other endangered or threatened species.

Exempt from punishment?

A Royal Cambodian Armed Forces officer, who is also the son of the former Siem Reap provincial Chamber of Commerce President Lok Oknha Sin Kong, was released on Tuesday after being detained overnight for allegedly transporting illegally logged timber in Siem Reap.

The police found 27 pieces of Kranhung, weighing 350 kilograms, packed into the back of his Toyota Land Cruiser. He also signed a contract that prevents him from transporting luxury wood in the future (??), the police said, adding that an investigation revealed the suspects were active illegal wood merchants.

Conservation International (CI) refutes logging story.

Conservation International (CI) issued a sharp rebuke of a Phnom Pehn Post story that alleged involvement in illegal rosewood logging in Cambodia’s Central Cardamom Protected Forest. The conservation group said the large-scale logging referenced in the article was legally approved by the Cambodian government and that “CI is not involved in this work and does not engage with the company as the forest clearance for the reservoir does not take place within the CCPF.”

Read the full stories:

Rosewood from Ratanakkiri - The Cambodia Daily, Dec 2, 2011

Background Information:

The Cambodia Daily, Dec 21, 2011