All motorbikes, trucks and trailers found transporting illegal wood will be stopped and destroyed on sight, the National Anti-Deforestation Committee (NADC) announced in its latest set of measures to end forestry crimes.
“No matter how small it is, we have to take strict measures — even as small as the size of ants,” said NADC spokesman Eng Hy.
“We have to destroy them at the scene because even if we were to keep them, we couldn’t use them for anything.”
All currently active timber transporters should immediately change their careers because the NADC will show no mercy, Hy added.
The new strategy was announced in a press release issued today, which did not explain how the NADC would destroy the vehicles on the road — whether large, or as small as ants.
Hoeun Sopheap, spokesman for environmental group Prey Lang Community Network, said he supported the NADC’s decision, especially the policy to destroy vehicles.
But he noted that previous NADC campaigns seemed to start strong but quickly fizzle out.
“If we make an announcement, we need to keep up a constant drizzle — against both the rich and poor, the ordinary people all the way up to the okhna,” Sopheap said.
“If they do it effectively, we will be very happy.”
Environmental activist Heng Sros, however, said he would have preferred to see a focus on the giants of the illicit timber trafficking world rather than the ants.
“We welcome the enforcement of the law, but they have to face the realities of applying the law: Don’t just catch-and-release the okhna,” Sros said, referring to the lack of serious penalties handed down to timber trading tycoons even when authorities pursued them in token actions.
Sros said timber trafficking was continuing into Vietnam, particularly through the provinces of Mondulkiri and Kratie.
The Prey Lang Community Network issued an open letter last month saying deforestation and timber trafficking were currently increasing due to the inaction of authorities.
The NADC, however, claims a decline in forestry crimes across the country, citing dwindling amounts of illegal wood being confiscated, from more than 70,000 cubic meters in 2016 to 4,000 cubic meters in 2018.
(Translated and edited from the original article on VOD Khmer)