Stung Treng provincial authorities on Friday ordered a crackdown on more than 200 families who had burned forests illegally, urging them to put an end to all illegal land clearing activities.
Stung Treng Provincial Hall spokesman Men Kong said the offenders have been, for some time, clearing hundreds of hectares of land around 10km from Lower Sesan II Dam.
“I still do not know the exact number of [people] who cleared land illegally or how much of it they have cleared, but most of them did it to build houses,” Kong said.
A local newspaper reported that the authorities only issued a warning to the offenders without detaining anyone.
Offenders were informed of a possible jail sentence for up to 10 years as stipulated in the Kingdom’s forestry law, should the illegal activity continue.
Speaking to The Post on Saturday, Adhoc coordinator Ho Sam Ol said he does not disagree with the crackdown but suggested the authorities assess the offenders’ personal situations.
“[The authorities] should try to find solutions for the villagers who are landless, maybe by granting them concessions to farm with specific terms to prevent a further violation.”
Ol said in case they cleared the land to do business with powerful individuals, the authorities must take legal action.