Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Trees ‘felled for pepper’

Trees ‘felled for pepper’

Lumber from Pchek trees is loaded onto a vehicle in Battambang’s Phnom Samkos Wildlife Sanctuary earlier this week.
Lumber from Pchek trees is loaded onto a vehicle in Battambang’s Phnom Samkos Wildlife Sanctuary earlier this week. PHOTO SUPPLED

Trees ‘felled for pepper’

Batambang's Phnom Samkos Wildlife Sanctuary is being illegally logged for pepper posts, with brokers bribing environment officers to transport the timber, residents and NGO workers have said.

According to a community member who asked not to be named, while dead trees had previously been used to produce the posts for plantations, the past month has seen a surge in the logging and shredding of resilient Pchek trees.

“Brokers are buying and hauling them out at night on home-made trucks, with about five loads a night,” he said.

Chan Socheat, an operational officer from the Maddox Jolie-Pitt Foundation, said that officials were taking bribes in order to meet the demands of pepper-plantation owners, noting that on Wednesday, he was personally offered a pay-off to turn a blind eye as timber was being transported out of the area.

Forestry officials reportedly receive about $25 per head to give passage to trucks carrying up to 300 posts, with additional fees paid to soldiers and border officials. “They contacted me willing to pay me the same, but I denied the deal,” he said. “Our mission is the opposite of other officials’. I come here to protect the forest.”

However, one local Forestry Administration official accused of taking bribes, Chhay Sareth, denied the existence of tree-felling on a large scale or related extortion. “Some villagers transport 20 to 30 posts via tractor, therefore we allow them to go freely without asking for any money,” he said.

The director of Kampong Lapov environment station could not be reached for comment, though he has previously refuted allegations of an illegal local timber trade, claiming the logs come from dead trees.

MOST VIEWED

  • Time to avert disastrous Covid situation: officials

    The Covid-19 situation in Cambodia is heading towards further large-scale community transmission as the total number of confirmed cases is nearing 61,000 and the death toll passed 900 on July 10, senior health officials warned. Ministry of Health spokeswoman Or Vandine expressed concern that the country was going

  • Visa A holders get to quarantine at Himawari Hotel

    The Ministry of Health has permitted foreign diplomats, UN and International NGO officials to undergo quarantine at Himawari Hotel in the capital in case they do not have a separate place suitable for this purpose, but the government would not be responsible for the expenses.

  • Two luxury hotels latest quarantine options for inbound travellers

    The Inter-Ministerial Committee to Combat Covid-19 has designated two luxury hotels as alternative quarantine options for travellers who wish to enter Cambodia through Phnom Penh International Airport – Sokha Phnom Penh Hotel & Residence and the Courtyard by Marriott Phnom Penh. In a notice detailing guidelines issued

  • Baby saved as mother is lost to Covid

    Newborn baby Neth David has had a rough start in the world. His mother, Vong Daneth, was seven months pregnant when she contracted a severe case of Covid-19. When it became clear to her doctors that she would not survive, they performed a cesarean section

  • Jabs for kids bring hope for school reopenings

    Cambodia is tentatively planning to reopen schools – at least at the secondary level – when the vaccination of children aged 12-17 is completed, even though daily transmissions and deaths in other age groups remain high. Schools across the country have been suspended since March 20, one month

  • Hun Sen: Get 12-17 age group ready for Covid jabs

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has told parents of children aged 12-17 in Phnom Penh and the provinces of Kandal and Preah Sihanouk to get them ready for vaccinations soon. “There is a need to vaccinate children and youths aged 12 to 17. According to the statistics provided