More than 1,000 logs of illegally felled first-grade timber were seized from a Chinese-owned Great Field International land concession beside Kampong Speu province’s Oral Wildlife Sanctuary yesterday, according to officials and a local monitoring group.
A mixed force of 53 police and forestry officials confiscated 1,039 logs, most of which were phchek and sokrom, from a sawmill on the concession after receiving a tip-off, said deputy Oral district governor Bun Vichet.
“The timber was old and illegal, so we confiscated it to a place at the provincial forestry administration,” Vichet said, explaining that authorities were now searching for the owners of the sawmill, who had rented land on the sugar plantation for the operation.
Chea Hean, head of the Natural Resource and Wildlife Preservation Organization, said the sawmill was known to belong to a businessman known only as “Nakry”, and had been logged inside the Oral Wildlife Sanctuary before being transported into the concession.
“They log the timber illegally in the protected area to process and sell domestically at the depot, and they cut the timber before exporting it to Vietnam. It has been going for about three years,” Hean said.
Separately, Theng Chanthy, police chief of Rattanakiri’s Lumphat district, said his forces had arrested three men for illegally transporting wood on Tuesday, but that they escaped yesterday.
“In the morning, they escaped while we were busy drilling a well to build a toilet,” he said.
Hak Siek Lim, spokesman for the Tbong Khmum provincial court, also said military police in his province arrested seven men for the same crime on Tuesday but they were still being held for questioning.