Ministry: No connection found between Think Biotech and illegal logging

The Forestry Administration on Wednesday 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 in collaboration with the Forestry Administration at the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries in Kratie province 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.

β€œAs 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.

β€œThe working group regrets not being able to collaborate with environmental activists to verify information on forest crimes in the field directly.

β€œThe working group had provided information to media outlets saying Think Biotech was not involved in logging timber in the Prey Lang forest area and the community forests,” the Forestry Administration said.

It said Think Biotech had a duty to invest in planting trees as stated in an August 12, 2011, Council of Ministers directive.

The company had also signed an investment agreement with the ministries of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries and Economy and Finance on April 12, 2012, 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.

β€œThe company prepared a master plan for the use of state land to plant trees. The plans included planting markers to demarcate the boundaries of the Boeung Char Rehabilitation Station.

β€œThe company dug land surrounding the location and prepared a list estimating the cost of forest resources in Sub-regions I, II, IV and V. The company was also authorised to clear and plant trees in these sub-regions,” the Forestry Administration said.

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.

Information was received from commune authorities and the committees of the Brasat Takhmao forest community, the Kampong Kboeung natural protection community, the Koh Intha Chey natural resources community, the Kampong Damrei natural protection community and the Ang Intha natural protection community.

The working group instructed the company to follow the law and working standards in effect and encouraged the Kratie Forestry administration to prevent and crack down on forest crimes within its jurisdiction in collaboration with the relevant authorities.

Source: Phnom Penh Post