Timber exports from Cambodia continuing through ban

Despite Cambodian authorities placing a ban on lumber exports in January 2016, customs data in April showed that timber exports continued to flow from Cambodia to Vietnam. A report compiled by Forest Trends, a non-governmental organisation (NGO), shows that an estimated US$14 million worth of timber was recorded by Vietnamese authorities that month alone.

However, according to the report the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) released, the volume of timber exports have fallen compared to prior months. Nevertheless, analyst from Forest Trends, Phuc Xuan To, called the export of processed wood “substantial”.

The figures of the report reveal that Vietnam imported around 21,670 cbm of sawn wood, US$13.7 million worth, in April, a 27 per cent decrease as compared to February and nearly a 50 per cent drop from March.

Exports of raw logs have also fallen to 6,269 cbm, valued at US$1.7 million, in April, a steep fall from the 52,000 cbm seen in March.

According to the Phnom Penh Post, despite arrests of some Vietnamese loggers by Cambodian police in March, it is hardly the tip of the iceberg of what the EIA investigators called a “systematic” logging operation supported by Vietnamese timber traders, which they believe have felled over 300,000 cbm from forests, in the Ratanakkiri Province, in particular.

More than a year ago, Prime Minister of Cambodia, Hun Sen, assigned Military Police Chief Sao Sokha the task of cracking down on timber smuggling and smugglers with an anti-logging task force.