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The Economist: Cambodian forests and China
In the same week as a front-page article in the Sunday Washington Post, the March 31st edition of The Economist newspaper also carries an article on the effects of Chinese demand and sourcing of timber, this time from Cambodia.
The article highlights activities by Chinese logging companies in the Krang Skear forest, northwest of Phnom Penh. One local woman interviewed for the story says that some 60 of the 250 families depend wholly on the forest for their livelihoods, not including many others who rely at least in part on access to the forests. The nearest health clinic for those who live in the forests is 70 km away, but locals rely on the forests for medicinal plants, resin trees, and forest wildlife. The Chinese have logged 1,700 ha of the Krang Skear forest, replanting it with acacia trees that grow quickly but provide little in terms of resources to local villagers.
According to the article, a few years ago a Chinese company from Guangdong was granted a concession to log 17,000 ha in the Kampong Chhnang province, despite a law that restricts concessions to 10,000 ha per bidder. In 2004, 100 locals from Krang Skear and neighboring areas went to Phnom Penh to protest the concession and present their own claims to the forest. Police outside the forest ministry threatened to beat them.
Cambodia's ongoing land grab by political and wealthy elites is most serious in its deeply forested regions, particularly those populated by non-Khmer minorities. According to the Wildlife Conservation Society, many households in this region lay claim to particular resin trees that can be tapped for half a century. The most valuable resins from these trees can bring in $350 a year for a household. According to NGOs in the area, with or without permission from the provincial and federal capital Chinese companies come in and log these trees, eliminating this source of income and security for local households with few other options.
Read the whole article here.
More on China and forest trade in the Asia-Pacific region here.
Posted By Megan Liddle at 10:44am on April 06, 2007
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