Chainsaws stayed busy in past year

The extent of the devastation of Cambodia’s forests was brought into sharp relief as 2013 drew to a close, with a series of detailed maps and satellite data released by NGOs showing the drastic depletion of the Kingdom’s woodland ecosystems. Images released by Open Development Cambodia (ODC) earlier this month showed that the ratio of forest cover has fallen from about 72 per cent in 1973 to only 46 per cent this year. Whereas about 42 per cent of the country was covered in dense forest in 1973, only about 11 per cent remains so today, the maps showed. … In November, a University of Maryland study offered yet more evidence of the scale of the devastation of Cambodia’s forests. It found that about seven per cent of Cambodia’s forests had been logged in the past 12 years Another investigation into logging, carried out by the Regional Community Forestry Training Center in November, added to the damming indictment of government policy on forests, showing that Cambodia lost 420,000 hectares last year alone, about 3.8 per cent of the total. Despite a moratorium on new economic land concessions (ELCs) last year that came shortly on the heels of the murder of prominent forest activist Chut Wutty, logging in and around ELCs and protected areas continued apace in 2013. … The scale of the devastation is becoming more evident year-on-year. What remains to be seen is whether enough pressure can be brought to bear on the authorities so that an attempt can be made to begin to reverse the losses in the years to come.

Daniel Pye