A joint police force closed down several large illegal charcoal kilns and storage sites in Sre Chhouk commune of Mondulkiri province’s Keo Seima district. The operation was led by Yin Sok Leng, acting district governor, with the legal coordination of deputy prosecutor Eang Sokun.

Sok Leng told The Post that the operation began on December 6. Five large kilns and two storage sites were discovered near Roneng village.

“Several tonnes of charcoal was confiscated and transported to the Forestry Administration’s (FA) Keo Seima cantonment for further legal action,” he said.

According to Sok Leng, the people who operated the sites were not residents of the area but migrants from Kratie and Stung Treng provinces. They were reprimanded and asked to sign contracts agreeing to cease any further such activities.

Suon Thiros, chief of the Keo Seima cantonment, told The Post that his team was still counting and weighing the charcoal sacks. Legal action was likely to follow.

“As of the afternoon of December 8, we have not yet finished determining the quantity of charcoal we have seized,” he said.

According to Thiros, the illegal charcoal trade plays a large part in the destruction of the forests. No less than 20 or 30 large trees may be fed into each kiln.

“When we researched the capacity a similar sized kiln, we determined that it could be responsible of 200-300 trees per year. Naturally, if we want to preserve our forests, we need to end these kinds of destructive activities,” he said.

He added that the careless manufacture of charcoal could also lead to wildfires. If they spread, they could easily be responsible for the deaths of untold examples of the Kingdom’s rare and endangered wildlife.