Drone footage shows empty landscape from logging in northern Cambodia

Video of the vast Prey Lang sanctuary shows that hundreds of hectares of forest have been cleared.
By RFA Khmer
2024.04.30
Drone footage shows empty landscape from logging in northern Cambodia Advocates view clearcut in the protected Prey Lang forest, April 25, 2024 in Cambodia.
(Oudom Chey)

The drone footage reveals what has long been reported – enormous patches of barren land in every direction where logging has evidently taken place.

The recent video from northern Cambodia shows that hundreds of hectares of forest in the vast Prey Lang Wildlife Sanctuary have been subject to anarchic destruction and clearance.

The sanctuary, created in 2016, covers an area of 431,683 hectares (1.07 million acres), across parts of Preah Vihear, Stung Treng, Kampong Thom and Kratie provinces.

Footage taken by an activist shows mostly empty sections of land, containing a small number of leftover felled trees, and surrounded by still-forested land.

But activists have said that government authorities have done nothing in the years since to prevent supporters of the ruling Cambodian People’s Party from illegally exporting timber to neighboring Vietnam, a major buyer of luxury hardwood.

According to the Global Forest Watch, an open-source web application that monitors global forests in near real-time, Cambodia lost 114,000 hectares of natural forest in 2023 alone – equivalent to an area the size of Los Angeles.

ENG_KHM_ForestClearing_04292024.2.jpg
Illegal clear cut inside the protected Prey Lang forest, April 25, 2024 in Cambodia. (Oudom Chey)

“I really regret having witnessed such deforestation,” said Khem Sokhy, a core member of the Prey Lang Community Network. “From the very beginning, illegal logging has been allowed to occur, causing impacts on our natural resources.”

Activists still hold out hope that authorities will one day “love our natural resources and stop committing corruption.”

Neither Song Chansocheat, the head of Preah Vihear Provincial Department of Environment, nor National Military Police spokesman Eng Hy could be reached for comment on Monday.

Translated by Sovannarith Keo. Edited by Matt Reed and Malcolm Foster.

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