Authorities in Kratie province have seized nearly 50 cubic meters of unlicensed luxury-grade logs from a rubber plantation, but claim to know neither the name of the plantation nor the identity of the owner.
Provincial governor Sar Chamrong said on Monday that military police found the 86 pieces of Thnong, measuring a total of 48.5 cubic meters, on a Snuol district plantation on Sunday and seized the wood along with a motorbike, mobile phone and a notebook that appeared to have been used by the loggers.
Officers stand next to a haul of luxury-grade logs seized by authorities on a rubber plantation in Kratie province on Sunday. (Fresh News)“The loggers were not there during the operation and we are now investigating to find the people involved,” he said.
Mr. Chamrong said the phone and notebook would help authorities track the loggers, and referred additional questions to provincial military police commander San Bunthan. The commander declined to comment and referred questions to National Military Police spokesman Eng Hy, who also declined to comment.
Uy Srey, head of the Forestry Administration’s Snuol cantonment, who joined Sunday’s operation, said the plantation was located along the border with Mondolkiri province, before hanging up.
Snuol district governor Kong Kimny said he believed the wood had been logged in Mondolkiri, but offered no evidence for that assertion before also declining to comment further because the investigation was ongoing.
All the officials claimed not to know the name of the plantation or its owner.
Rubber plantations across the country have become notorious for laundering illegally logged wood from surrounding forests. Plantations along the Kratie-Mondolkiri border, which sit inside a pair of nominally protected areas, have been among the most frequent alleged offenders.
Military police found more than 4,000 cubic meters of unlicensed timber on one of those plantations, Bin Phuok, early last year during an illegal logging crackdown across eastern Cambodia that netted about 70,000 cubic meters of wood in all.
Though most of the wood was found on rubber plantations, authorities have yet to bring charges against a single person or company in connection with the seizures.
pheap@cambodiadaily.com
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