Press Release / May 23, 2000

Chainsaws speak louder than words.

Global Witness will launch its latest report “Chainsaws speak louder than words” at the Cambodia Consultative Group (CG) meeting in Paris on the 24th May.

“Unprecedented progress has been made in the Cambodian forestry sector over the past 18 months and ‘Chainsaws’ reflects this.” said Patrick Alley of Global Witness. However the situation is still severe; in the last six months Global Witness has documented 129,841m3 of illegally felled timber either stockpiled or being transported. At the current royalty rate of $54 per m3 this represents a loss to the treasury of $7.01 million.

“Hun Sen’s January 1999 Crackdown on illegal logging was key, and the Prime Ministers personal backing of the Forest Crimes Monitoring Unit, and Global Witness in its role as the Independent Monitor has been crucial for continued reform.” said Alley.

The report details the real progress that has been made in recent moths particularly with the marked reduction in illegal activities and the unexpectedly forthright findings of the ADB Concession Review Report. But Global Witness’ report cautions against complacency. Patrick Alley said “The future of Cambodia’s forest resource is on a knife edge; it could go either way. It is essential that the international donor community places the continued reform process high on the agenda at the CG and continue to tie non-humanitarian aid disbursement to implementation of forestry reform.”

Principal among the recommendations of the report Global Witness are calling for a complete moratorium on all concession activity and the termination of contracts where concessionaires have committed serious contractual breaches. Global Witness investigators documented more illegal activity by Hero Taiwan in its Ratanakiri concession after three days in the field than the six inspecting foresters had in the past year.

“Concessionaires such as Hero and Pheapimex continue log illegally and with apparent impunity; they cannot be trusted to manage the forest while the industry is restructured. Chainsaws do speak louder than words” said Alley.

“The ADB review has ducked the logical solution that its findings would suggest and the RGC is unlikely act of its own volition; the impetus for a moratorium and cancellation of contracts has to come from the donors at the CG.” said Jon Buckrell.

Cambodia’s forest sector is already being used as a potential model for forestry reform elsewhere in the world but the report concludes pressure and support for the RGC must be maintained to build meaningfully on the recent notable successes.

Global Witness, Tel: + 44 (0)20 7272 6731; Fax: + 44 (0)20 7272 9425;
Mobile: + 44 (0)7968 160 377
Email:[email protected]