Cambodia – Foreign logging company warehouses pose threat to ethnic minority, wildlife

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Location: Kbal Romeas village, Kbal Romeas commune, Sesan II district, Stung Treng province Language: Cambodian

Duration: 00:06:06

Source: A24

Restrictions: A24 Subscribers

Dateline: 04-05-2022

Storyline:

The Phnong ethnic minority in the Stung Treng province are living in fear and insecurity as they come together to protect the forest surrounding their Kbal Romeas village against an influential foreign logging company that devours the forest trees. The afflicted community is trying to protect the forest amid lack of action by the local authorities. Srang Lanh, a village representative, said that village representatives had lodged a request with the authorities to turn the forest into a collective forest to protect it from deforestation and logging, yet he said, the request was ignored in favor of the logging company. Srang Lanh, who also represents the afflicted community, said the Phnong indigenous community are adamant to protect the village, especially after witnessing the destruction wrought by a foreign company that built a hydroelectric dam which raised the water levels and saw houses submerged underwater.

Shot list:

(SOUNDBITE) Mrs. Srang Lanh (Por Nong Indigenous representative):

“Installing those sawmills is meant to destroy the forest. In 2019-2020, they tried to cut down the trees from my community forest. In 2021 – 2022, they logged in the Krabei Chrum village, which is next to my village. For about seven or eight months, the company suspended their activities for a while, but recently, in late 2021 and early 2022, the company started to re-install sawmills, according to information from people in neighboring villages, the company is cutting trees in Talat commune, Srekor village. For our concern, when this company cuts down trees in Srekor village, they will come and destroy our community forest.”

(SOUNDBITE) Mr. Srean Ornn (Por Nong Indigenous Villager):

“In the sawmill warehouse, you would see men cutting trees; some sorting wood and stacking it behind the sawmill warehouse.”

(SOUNDBITE) Mr. Lim Phany (Youth of Por Nong Indigenous):

“I saw many valued trees being cut down. There are 15 sawmills that belong to one warehouse, and there are many large trucks, which I often saw as they drove through the entrance to my village every day.”

(SOUNDBITE) Mr. Srean Ornn (Por Nong Indigenous Villager):

“There are tractors for transporting timber, trucks for transporting timber and a lot of logging.”

(SOUNDBITE) Mrs. Srang Lanh (Por Nong Indigenous representative):

“If Chinese companies invade our indigenous communities, our community will lose what we have right now; we had lost many things because of the Chinese hydroelectric dam. Therefore, the Phnong indigenous community wants to preserve what is left for future generations so that they can know the heritage of our ancestors as well as the heritage of Cambodia.

(SOUNDBITE) Mr. Srean Ornn (Por Nong Indigenous Villager):

“Most of them start to cut the trees at 8 pm in the night because we do not dare to patrol at night because we are afraid of them; we are not safe because maybe they have guns.”

(SOUNDBITE) Mr. Srean Ol (Por Nong Indigenous Villager):

“Our community lost a lot, such as demon forest, spiritual forest, buried forest, wildlife sanctuary.”

(SOUNDBITE) Mr. Srean Chhoeun (Por Nong Indigenous Villager):

“They cut down trees of all sizes, even stumps.”

(SOUNDBITE) Mr. Lim Phany (Youth of Por Nong Indigenous):

“For the Phnong minority, when we have the forest, we can live, if the forest is gone; we will also lose our life. There are forests and big lands because we can raise cattle as we had done for a long time. Our people can find something to support their families.”

(SOUNDBITE) Mrs. Srang Lanh (Por Nong Indigenous representative):

“The map of our indigenous community forest has already been submitted to the provincial land department, but the officials claim that our map overlaps with the company map. As for our map, it has been submitted to the Department of Land Management since 2012, why have the authorities not complied with our request.”

(SOUNDBITE) Mrs. Srang Lanh (Por Nong Indigenous representative):

“Our request is to get the right to designate this community forest as a collective forest; why not issue a document to us, because now they need documents. I remember that in the past, we did not have the documents, but we never lost even 1 meter of land, but now we use the documents, why do we have to lose a lot of land. This is our concern.”

(SOUNDBITE) Mr. Lim Phany (Youth of Por Nong Indigenous):

“I am determined to protect this community forest for our future generations as well for us right now.”

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