Despite the ADB increasing the resources available to their review of Cambodia’s forest concessions, carried out by consultants Fraser Thomas, unless the review is drastically reformed the results could well damage forestry reform in Cambodia, warned British environmental and human rights group Global Witness in a document released today.
“The Interim Report released by the review team in late 1999 is damning about the state of Cambodia’s concessions”, said Global Witness’ Patrick Alley. “But it fails to deal with several key issues, and, combined with some of the statements made by members of the team, it looks like it’s the concessionaires who are going to get away very lightly”. Global Witness highlighted several major concerns.
· The ADB and Fraser Thomas have both told Global Witness that they will not recommend termination of any concessions.
· The report has not identified any of the eight concessionaires reviewed as having been involved in any illegal logging, despite large-scale illegal logging having been carried out.
· The report states that the review will not utilize any information about current or past illegal logging, delegating this responsibility to the Cambodian government. The report is therefore admitting that the review will not be providing all the information the RGC requires to reach any decisions or conclusions.
· The report scores every concessionaire reviewed with 80% for their documentation, but admits that the review team could read none of the documents, as they were in Khmer, they merely recorded that documents of unknown content existed.
· The report states that every concessionaire practised Satisfactory Management, whilst also stating that 40-80% of the operable area of the concessions had been harvested within the first 20% (five years) of the concession cycle.
· Despite the increase in resources, the site inspections have only been allocated 3.5 months, which falls short of the 4-6 months the inspection forester stated was necessary to complete the job properly.
Global Witness’ Patrick Alley said “If the ADB stick to the policies and findings laid out in their interim report, like stating that they will not attribute illegal logging to any concessionaire, that concessionaires can score 80% for documentation the review team couldn’t read, and can be classed as having ‘Satisfactory Management’ when 40-80% of their concession has been logged out in the first five years – then one has to question the value of the whole process. If the review lets concessionaires off the hook, then Cambodia’s forests will again be entrusted to the very companies who are responsible for their destruction.”
Global Witness, Tel: + 44 (0)20 7272 6731; Fax: + 44 (0)20 7272 9425;
Press Release / March 3, 1999