A surge in deforestation alerts from Cambodia’s Prey Lang Wildlife Sanctuary has raised fresh concerns over the role of a controversial timber firm in illegal logging.
The 34,000-hectare (17,000 acre) Think Biotech concession was approved in 2012 under an agreement between Cambodia and South Korea aiming to “reduce pressure on natural forests” along Prey Lang’s eastern boundary.
Campaigners who monitor logging in Prey Lang say large parts of the concession were in fact already covered by diverse natural forest that has now been replaced by an Acacia tree plantation, with huge costs to biodiversity, river pollution and the local indigenous Kuy and Khmer populations.
The Prey Lang protected area covers the provinces of Kampong Thom, Kratie, Stung Treng and Preah Vihear and was designated a wildlife sanctuary in May 2016.
Activists and researchers are amassing evidence of a network of organized forestry crimes in Prey Lang Wildlife Sanctuary, but they say efforts to follow the money are stymied by government inaction or denials and overly measured responses from international NGOs.