Press Release / April 20, 2000

Global Witness welcomes ADB draft report

British environmental and human rights group Global Witness broadly welcome the ADB’s draft report on the review of Cambodia’s forest concessions . Global Witness believes that it is essential that the strong recommendations made in the report are acted upon and added to, and urges the participants in the 20th & 21st April workshop, organised by the ADB, to support the report’s strong stance.

“The report pulls few punches”, said Patrick Alley of Global Witness. “It squarely lays the blame for the immense destruction of Cambodia’s forests at the doors of the concessionaires and the government. It shows that the concession experiment up to now has been a complete disaster - what is crucial now is that the report is acted upon”.

Global Witness believes the hard-hitting report has one main flaw, which is that it fails to reach the logical conclusion that its subject matter suggests. “The report states that 50% of concession forest is already logged out, that means de facto that at least 50% of the concessionaires have no future in Cambodia. Furthermore, it is obvious that a viable timber industry in the future requires a far more radical shake up than simply reforming the existing system”, said Alley.

Global Witness calls on the concession review panel, the workshop, the RGC and the international donor community to bring about a complete moratorium on concession activity until both the ADB’s and the World Bank Forest Policy Reform Projects recommendations are fully implemented. “Right now Cambodia’s most valuable natural resource is still in the hands of the companies and the system castigated in the report, like a bank robber guarding a bank. If there is no moratorium, we predict the forests will be commercially logged out within three years”.