Press Release / May 28, 1998

Laos commences illegal export of 100,000m3 of Cambodian logs - illegal exports to Vietnam continue

Pheapimex-Fuchan, the Taiwanese logging company and member of the Cambodia Timber Industry Association (CTIA) has tied up a 100,000m3 log export deal with Laos.

The logs, originating from Stung Treng province are being transported up route 13 to the Lao border under the protection of Military Region 1, also responsible for continuing illegal log exports to Vietnam. Logs are being cut in Stung Treng's Siam Pang and Tala districts and are being stockpiled near the Lao border at Vengnang village, Khamphok village and in various locations on the banks of the Mekong.

"Pheapimex-Fuchan is an example of all that is wrong with forestry in Cambodia" said Simon Taylor at Global Witness. "They enjoy the protection of Hun Sen, they cut what they like and no-one has the power to do anything about it. If Friday's forestry report is going to have any chance of success the RGC are going to have to clamp down on companies like Pheapimex".

News of these illegal exports will disappoint the World Bank who not only funded the TA projects, but also, through the Global Environment Fund (GEF), support the Laotian Xe Piane National Biodiversity Conservation Area (NBCA) across which the logs from Khampok will pass. This park is one of the richest wildlife areas in Laos. Another wildlife rich proposed NBCA, Dong Kanthoung, is also at risk as logs may also be imported from Cambodia via Ban Khem, Mounlapamok District in Laos' Champasak province.

Illegal log exports are still entering Vietnam, with hundreds of trucks moving Cambodian logs from Pleiku to Qui Nhon port. Vietnamese loggers are still operating in Virachey National Park and elsewhere in Ratanakiri Province. New logging roads were still being bulldozed in March and early April in Ta Veng District, with Vietnamese manned logging trucks exporting logs to Kontum province.

Last week Vietnamese timber processors based in Pleiku, Kontum and Qui Nhon admitted to possessing licences from the Vietnamese government allowing them to use Cambodian timber. Instead, they use 66% Cambodian timber, with the remainder being illegally felled in Vietnamese national parks.

"Military Region 1 completely control these exports with the blessing of the co-Prime Ministers. With the release of the ARD report the Prime Ministers now know without doubt that their policies, or lack of them, will have destroyed Cambodia's forests within five years. It was the Prime Ministers who signed the permits that opened the flood gates into Vietnam. It's up to them to close them," said Patrick Alley of Global Witness.