Cambodia’s Rapacious Illegal Logging ‘Industry’.
Above Photo: Another Day (Another Dollar) in Paradise. More illegally felled hardwood in Ratanakiri Province, Cambodia. (PAL)
On a recent BACK research-related visit to Ratanakiri Province, Cambodia, I was shocked at the devastation wreaked on Cambodia’s former pristine jungle. I also couldn’t believe that almost every vehicle I saw on Ratanakiri’s roads: carts, motorbikes, trucks, cars and even bicycles, were transporting illegally logged hardwood.
The tri-border jungles of Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam, scene of the disappearance of a backpacking group in my novel BACK, are themselves disappearing, and being replaced by rubber and cashew plantations and dirty great bank balances for all officials connected with the trade, no doubt.
In 2013 researchers at the University of Maryland, using satellite data, ranked Cambodia as having the fifth-fastest rate of deforestation in the world.
Having seen the situation with my own eyes, I was interested to recently read an excellent article by Lauren Crothers on Mongabay.com.
The article, written in June 2017 gives a glimpse into the murky, Byzantine world of Cambodian government secrecy, hypocrisy, obstruction and feigned or real ignorance of officials that fuels illegal logging.
As in the case of the disgraceful deforestation of Laos, the destination is the same – Vietnam, aided by corrupt border guards, officials on both sides and the desire to make huge profits in illegally-felled hardwoods.
I have added the article’s summaries below, and put a link to the full article at the end.
Long known as a hotspot for rapid and largely illegal deforestation for logging, Cambodia was singled out in a May 2017 EIA report.
The report was the result of months of undercover investigations which found that from November 2016, more than 300,000 cubic meters (nearly 10.6 million cubic feet) of timber have been illegally felled in a wildlife sanctuary and two protected areas in Cambodia.
Most of the timber was sold to Vietnam and generated $13 million in kickbacks from Vietnamese timber traders.
Environmental experts believe that a much-publicized crackdown on illegal logging launched in Cambodia in early 2016 was little more than theatrics.
See the trailer for our new film, M.I.A. A Greater Evil. Set in the jungles of Laos and Vietnam, the film deals with the possible fate of US servicemen left behind after the US pulled out of the Vietnam War.
For POWs left behind in Laos, see also:
Peter Alan Lloyd
BACK Parts 1 and 2:
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