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Cambodia: Government investigates allegations of illegal logging after reports from community, EU & USAID

Prey Lang Community Network’s report suggests that Think BioTech Co Ltd and Angkor Plywood Company involved in suspected illegal logging in Prey Lang Forest. Environment Minister Say Sam Al has submitted a letter to the Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries asking to jointly investigate after the Ministry of Environment had received reports by the EU in Cambodia and USAID Cambodia, which said Think BioTech was logging valuable trees in Prey Lang Forest near land concession areas of the company. Angkor Plywood Company was the party that processed the valuable trees. Company’s representative denies allegations.

Picture credit: The Phnom Penh Post

Picture credit: The Phnom Penh Post

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Article
13 December 2019

Cambodia: Minister of Environment requests for a joint investigation into allegations of illegal logging involved with companies in Prey Lang areas

Author: Dara Voun, The Phnom Penh Post

"Minister Sam Al calls for probe into illegal Prey Lang logging", 13 October 2019

Environment Minister Say Sam Al has submitted a letter to the Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries asking to jointly investigate Think BioTech Co Ltd and Angkor Plywood Company for suspected illegal logging in Prey Lang Forest.

The letter … said the Ministry of Environment had received reports by the EU in Cambodia and USAID Cambodia, which said Think BioTech was logging valuable trees in Prey Lang Forest near land concession areas of the company. Angkor Plywood Company was the party that processed the valuable trees.

“The EU and USAID Cambodia requested the royal government to investigate and take measures to ensure the protection and conservation of Prey Lang Forest.

“To be the basis for making a report to the head of the government, the Ministry of Environment would like His Excellency Minister [of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries] to investigate the developmental activities of Think BioTech and Angkor Plywood Company for the Ministry of Environment…

Ministry of Environment spokesman Neth Pheaktra said …: “I don’t have information on the latest developments in the issue.”…

Activist Heng Sros said that he was investigating the case of the two companies, where both had carried out their activities in the forest area located in Kratie and Stung Treng provinces.

… Sros reiterated that forest activists and residents living near the Prey Lang Forest area had filed several complaints and requested that provincial authorities take measures against the companies.

He claimed that the authorities had not taken any action, instead choosing to help the companies cover-up illegal logging activities…

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Article
13 December 2019

Cambodia: The Forestry Administration say there is no connection between Think Biotech and alleged illegal logging in Prey Lang areas

Author: Khouth Sophak Chakrya, The Phnom Penh Post

"Ministry: No connection found between Think Biotech and illegal logging", 12 December 2019

The Forestry Administration … said it had found no connection between Think Biotech Cambodia Co Ltd and alleged illegal logging in the Prey Lang Wildlife Sanctuary, and community forest areas in Kratie and Stung Treng provinces, as claimed by activists.

It said it had noted reports in some local and international media outlets that Think Biotech in Kratie and Stung Treng provinces had taken timber from illegal loggers in the Prey Lang Wildlife Sanctuary and the Brasat Takhmao community forest.

However, the Forestry Administration said a central Forestry Administration working group … had carried out field investigations into the matter.

The group used research documents, satellite imagery and drones in its investigation, as well as conducted random checks and interviews with commune authorities and representatives from the forest communities and the natural protection area communities situated inside and outside the Think Biotech concession.

“As a result, the working group found that Think Biotech had nothing to do with illegal deforestation, especially harvesting timber from resin trees in the Prey Lang forest area and some community forests.

… The company had also signed an investment agreement with the ministries of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries and Economy and Finance …, regarding the use of forest land to plant trees on 34,007ha at the Boeung Char Rehabilitation Station in Kratie’s Sambor district and Stung Treng’s Siem Bok district…

The central Forestry Administration working group had checked certain locations directly, particularly the boundary of the Think Biotech concession and the Prey Lang Wildlife Sanctuary…

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Article
10 December 2019

Cambodia: Forest and environmental activists claim Think Biotech involved with illegal logging; while company denies any involvement

Author: Chakrya Sophak Khouth, The Phnom Penh Post

"Think Biotech director Lu refutes activists’ illegal logging reports", 9 December 2019

Think Biotech (Cambodia) Co Ltd director Lu Chu Chang has dismissed as slanderous, reports by forest and environmental activists that the company is connected to illegal logging.

The reports claimed Think Biotech was involved in the illegal logging of forests in the Prey Lang Wildlife Sanctuary, as well as areas of community forest in Kratie and Stung Treng provinces.

Forest and environmental activists reported … that Think Biotech and Angkor Plywood Co had, for nearly a month, taken timber from illegal loggers in the Prey Lang Wildlife Sanctuary and the Brasat Takhmao community forest.

After some media outlets had reported on the case, Lu said he considered the reports to be slanderous and politically motivated.

“These environmental activists are using funding from foreign countries to stand in the way of Cambodia’s progress…

Lu spoke of Think Biotech’s three-year tree-planting project, with the company to plant more than 30 million trees for use in the timber-processing sector.

He said it was contracted to buy 10 million tree saplings a year from Angkor Plywood.

“Angkor Plywood has nothing to do with the Think Biotech’s timber-processing business as alleged by some people,” he stressed.

However, a Prey Lang Community Network activist in Stung Treng province, Yim Sopheak, claimed there was evidence linking Think Biotech to forest crimes…

“Our working group has proof that Think Biotech has been involved with forest crimes and that the company collects and buys timber from outside its forest concession areas,” Sopheak claimed.

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