Global Witness
This document is based upon a field investigation to Cambodia and Thailand by Global Witness (GW) which took place between 5th January - 10th February 1995.

The information is backed up by extensive film, photographic and documentary evidence. Interviews were carried out with NGO workers; senior officials, military officers politicians and political commentators in Cambodia and Thailand; military personnel, journalists, timber company workers and managers; timber concession holders, shippers, exporters and importers; and numerous local people in Thailand and Cambodia who have either been effected by or who have witnessed the situations described below.

Background research involved reviewing existing information including commercial and official documentation, trade statistics and press reports.


This document examines the dynamics of the trade in Cambodia's timber, focusing on its architects and beneficiaries, including the Royal Government of Cambodia (RGC) and the Khmer Rouge (KR), who often work in tandem1, and its effect on the environment and the human population.

Global Witness has deliberately focused its resources on the timber trade. Forests are probably Cambodia's most valuable and easily exploitable asset, and the ramifications of their destruction, already being felt, must place them towards the top of the agenda for any discussions about the Country's future. Other related factors including gem mining2, weapons trade3, drug running and money laundering4 are being examined by other bodies. The summary at the end of this document highlights key areas of concern and areas for positive action.

Following the much publicised elections in May 1993, Cambodia is portrayed as an international success story; a country on the rise as the result of internal cohesion, international cooperation and, at over US$2 billion, the most expensive UN intervention in history5.

The reality is a country that faces continuing internal conflict, corruption, destruction of its natural environment, extreme poverty and impending famine.

The destruction of Cambodia's natural environment is the thread that links all of the above problems. The conflict and corruption are funded by the profits of environmental exploitation, the environmental degradation exacerbates and is a direct cause of poverty and famine.

Cambodia is the victim not only of its recent history, but of the foreign policy aspirations of other governments6, its own Government, the Khmer Rouge, the Thai Government and unscrupulous foreign corporations.

Cambodia's forest cover has declined from around 74% of land area in the early 1970's to between 30-35% today7,8. The bulk of this forest loss has occurred since 19897,9,10 and, given current rates of destruction, it is likely that the remaining forest will be completely destroyed before the end of the century11. Today the beneficiaries of the timber trade are the RGC, the KR and the timber companies themselves.

Examples from across the world clearly demonstrate the disastrous effects of deforestation. There are no examples of cleared primary forest regenerating to its former state: endemic plant species are destroyed, animal species lose their habitat, and other environmental consequences (discussed later in this document) directly affect the human population.

Every timber company wishing to work in Cambodia purchases a concession from the RGC and in theory pays the RGC for every cubic metre of timber removed12,13,14. Concessions may be given in hectares, cubic metres, or both. Timber is exported by land and sea.

Land Exports to Thailand: The concessions in Cambodia are connected to "rest areas" in Thailand by dirt roads constructed by the logging companies15. Felled trees are transported directly from the concessions, across the Cambodia/Thai border to the rest areas where they are stored awaiting processing and/or further shipment. The distance between the concession and the rest area can be around 60 Km15,16, the connecting roads are only passable during the dry season (from November to April)15,17.

The concession holder is obliged to obtain a certificate of origin from the Phnom Penh Government18,19, a permit from the Thai embassy in Phnom Penh and then permission from the Thai Interior Ministry to import the logs into Thailand for processing or export12.

The international logging industry is notorious for its scant regard for the law and for the conditions laid out in their own contracts. In part this is due to the inherent difficulties in monitoring the industry, for example, the inaccessibility of concession areas, bad road conditions, (especially in the rainy season) etc. These problems are exacerbated in Cambodia due to the lack of Government resources, corruption and conflict in logging areas20.

Exports by Sea: Timber is exported both as logs and sawn wood from Koh Kong province to Thailand21, Vietnam22,23, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, the US and Europe7.

The KR are a highly effective and mobile guerilla army made up of a hard core estimated to be between 2000-3000 cadres, reinforced by "part time" militia which swell their numbers to between 10,000-20,0005,17,24.

The KR control strongholds such as Anlong Veng and Pailin, and maintain a wide influence over large areas of the countryside, particularly in Siem Reap, Battambang and Koh Kong19,25,26,27.

The KR derive the funds necessary to continue their conflict predominantly from trading timber and gems (sapphires and rubies) over the border with foreign companies. Without this trade the KR would not be able to continue their war2,5,24,28. Their supplies including food, fuel, weapons and other military logistics are derived from both Thai companies and, reports suggest, the Thai Government, facilitated by Thai military units such as Task Force 838 or "the Watchers Unit."3,5,27,29,30.

The Cambodia/Thai border has been "closed" since late 1994 following the murder of 22 Thai timber workers in November<sup>20</sup> and international criticism of the Thai Government's support for the KR, especially from the US<sup>5,31</sup> and Australia<sup>32</sup>.

Global Witness' investigation has obtained evidence which proves the current border closure is at best ineffective, and at worst purely cosmetic. Thailand is involved in the continuing cross border timber trade at official level. It is failing, despite its public announcements, to cooperate with the RGC logging ban and is openly supporting the KR, in trade facilitation if nothing else.

Thailand has gone to great efforts to publicise the border closure with numerous press articles, a long statement from the new Foreign Minister on one of his first TV interviews and by encouraging diplomats and journalists to inspect selected northern border checkpoints such as Chong An Mah.33,34,35

Between 23rd - 31st January Global Witness investigators drove 3500Km monitoring the entire border region on the Thai side, finding irrefutable evidence of continued large scale cross border timber trade. However, a 4Km wide strip of land that runs parallel to the border on the Thai side is under military control and is sealed to foreigners, ensuring that no independent monitoring of this area of the border is possible. Due to conflict some border areas are undoubtedly unsafe but this does not apply in most areas17,36,37,38.

The owner of a concession in an area under KR influence or control must not only pay the RGC but also negotiate rights of passage with the KR1,14. In Koh Kong province the KR are reported to receive Bt1000 (US$40) per cubic metre of timber that is felled. The RGC are fully aware that every concession sold in such an area will directly benefit the KR1,14,15,25.

The border from Ban Hat Lek - Aranyaprathet, Thailand: On the road (# 3271) leading north from the village of Noen Sung, 15Km south of Trat (south-eastern Thailand), towards the border town of Bo Rai, GW identified log rest areas belonging to six timber concession holders, these were Wooden Supply Import Export, Suan Pha, Chao Phraya Thai, Kor Nanthamanaop, Pa Mai Pipat and Tung Din Dam, who also have a rest area south of Nuan Sung on Highway 339,40.

These rest areas each contained thousands of felled trees, mainly Mai Yang (wild rubberwood). The two largest rest areas visited belonged to Suan Pha and Tung Din Dam, each containing, according to both GW's film and photographs and the numbering system on the logs, between 5,000 - 10,000 trees39.

Many empty log trucks were filmed moving along the road, parked at the roadside or being repaired in roadside tyre repair shops, indicative of extensive timber movement39.

Much of this border region, well beyond the 4 Km limit, is part of a military "controlled" area overseen by Thai Marines, who are assigned to protect the interests of the timber companies37.

GW visited the rest areas of the Wooden Supply Import Export Co. and the Suan Pha Co. At Suan Pha, GW witnessed loaded log trucks arriving at the rest area39, having just crossed the border from the Cambodian concession in Koh Kong Province16. Interviews with log truck owners and drivers disclosed that 100 trucks per day, each carrying between 1-5 trees (average load 25 m3), make the 60 Km journey from the concession, over the border, to Suan Pha. The trucks pass checkpoints controlled by both the KR and the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF)1,16,39. Thus, Suan Pha receives approximately 2500 m3 of timber per day41.

These log trucks work night and day throughout the dry season, the owners receiving Bt250-350 (US$10-14) per m3 of timber transported1. Ly Thuch, Cambodia's Secretary of State for the Environment, was reported three days earlier as saying that as many as 300 log trucks a day were still crossing the border despite the border closure42. The fact that 100 trucks a day cross the border to supply Suan Pha alone, suggests that Ly Thuch was seriously underestimating the scale of the problem.

There is a Thai Marine base situated less than 1 km from the road leading to the rest area of the Suan Pha Company, close to the Military/Police Checkpoint in Nuan Sung. The majority of the traffic on 3271 is related to the timber industry and many local people work in it39.

It would be a simple matter for the Thai authorities to close the roads linking the concessions and rest areas, and even simpler to prevent timber movement on the public highway. They are aware of timber crossing the border on a daily basis and have sufficient presence in the area to clamp down on the trade if there was the political will to do so39.

GW investigators also visited the small port of Kalapandha, almost at the south-eastern tip of Thailand, where sawn timber is imported from Koh Kong Province by sea. Twenty Five companies each bring up to three boat loads of sawn wood per week into Kalapandha. Each boat carries up to 90 m3 of timber bringing potential imports of up to 6750 m3 per week43,44.

This represents a potential income to the KR of Bt6,750,000 (US$270,000) per week45. This sawn wood is taken to the village of Klong Yai, the economy of which is based upon the timber industry. Between 10-20 large trucks per night, some with trailers, carry timber from Klong Yai to destinations throughout Thailand for use in the construction and furniture industry43.

The combined income to the KR just from Kalapandha harbour and Suan Pha Company could total Bt24,250,000 (US$970,000) per week46.

All sawn wood from Klong Yai has to pass the Police checkpoint at Nuan Sung on Highway 3; therefore the authorities are aware of all timber movements in this region39,43.

North of Chantaburi, just off Highway 317 at Pong Nam Ron, GW identified the rest areas of six timber companies including The Maka Centre Co Ltd and Display Tech (Thailand)Ltd47. Villagers spoke of a large rest area closer to the border but GW were not able to pass through the military checkpoint48.

This road leads across the border to the KR stronghold of Pailin. The entire Cambodian side of the border in this area is under KR control2,5, therefore all timber taken from this area depends on KR cooperation and directly funds their operations14.

GW visited Display Tech's rest area at Pong Nam Ron on 28th January 1995. The rest area contained 20,000 m3 of Maka49, a high grade hard wood currently more expensive than teak50,51.

To the left of the entrance to the rest area lay a one third section of an enormous tree. Estimated to be 1,300 years old18,49 it strongly illustrates the ruthless practices of the logging industry. This tree took root circa 694 AD and was already 480 years old when Angkor Wat was built. The local population and timber workers had hung garlands from the tree to respect its spirits14,49, and had chalked, in colour, the name of the forest (Ursat Leo) that it had come from. According to the rest area guard and the concession owner, this one section of tree contained 41 m3 of timber and was valued at Bt1,700,000 (US$68,000 or US$1658 per m3)49. This figure seems to be rather high but GW calculates that this section of the tree contained between 80 - 120 m3 giving a per m3 value of between Bt21,250 - 14,166 ($US567-850). Interest had been shown by a customer who manufactured conference tables - and by a senior official from the Thai Ministry of Agriculture who had taken an unauthorised helicopter flight from Bangkok the same morning that GW visited, interested in buying the whole section to display for its prestige value49.

Display Tech (Thailand) Ltd is affiliated to Display Tech Inc, a US company based in Michigan. The President is an American national, Larry Bridges Snr. The Thai Managing Director is Pairath Ch. Charoenphol, who is also the concession holder18.

GW interviewed the rest area guard, a cousin of Pairath, who confirmed that although the concession was officially made with the RGC, the day to day running depended on the cooperation and the support of the KR "as they live in the forest49."

Display Tech's concession was for 30,000 m3, with 10,000 m3 still to be cut. The guard said that cutting was in progress but that due to fighting no timber was currently crossing the border49.

GW tracked down Larry Bridges Senior, the President of Display Tech (Thailand) Ltd, at the Royal Cliff Beach Resort in Pattaya and met with him, Pairath and their US importer Thomas Haylett of the West Palm Beach, Florida based company, Lumber World.

During the course of this meeting, which took place on 8th February 1995 and was filmed with a hidden camera, Display Tech said, amongst other things, that the rest area was a Government yard, that the Cambodian logging ban did not apply to them "as we have a license;" that the timber deal had been set up with "the Generals" in Cambodia, whom they had visited the week before14,18.

Pairath has high level contacts with the Thai & Cambodian Governments and military, as well as the KR. Pairath stated in English14,18...

"I pay both sides, from the Khmer Rouge, mostly the wood it belongs to the Khmer Rouge."

Display Tech went on to say that they could get as much wood as we wanted, that they were still cutting14 and that they had moved 100 log trucks across the border since January 1st18. Remembering that Pairath's cousin had said twelve days before (28th January 1995) that there had been no timber movement due to fighting, the 100 trucks must have moved during this twelve day period. This information was corroborated from another source52 that said the border had opened at Pong Nam Ron around 30th January 1995, meaning that the trucks had in fact crossed the border during a ten day period.

Pairath showed GW a map detailing his two other concession areas, each for 10,000 m3 at Samrong and Anlong Veng (a major KR stronghold)2,5,14, in northern Cambodia. He stated that cutting was taking place at these concessions and that timber was currently moving across the border14.

Display Tech are actively marketing their wood in the US and invited GW to become their representatives in Europe, stating that shipping was no problem - "they would put it where we wanted it!"18

The border from Aranyaprathet - Laos: GW found no other evidence of movement across this border region. Following the murder of 22 Thai timber workers of the BLP Import Export Co. in November 1994, many timber companies had withdrawn personnel and equipment38. Some had moved operations to Laos; others were waiting for the situation to stabilise before returning to their concessions38,53,54.

GW interviewed Colonel Jirasak Chomprasop of the Surin Military Region who stated that the border was closed along its entire length, had been so since November 1994 and would remain closed until the RGC satisfactorily resolved the issue of the murdered timber workers. He stated that all timber companies in the north-eastern region of Isaan had ceased operations in Cambodia38. This last piece of information is at odds with the statement by Display Tech that their northern Cambodian concessions were in full operation14,18.

In summary, the border is clearly open to extensive trade in Cambodian timber from Pong Nam Ron south to Ban Hat Lek. All timber that moves from the Bo Rai/Nuan Sung region has to pass a Thai Marine base and a Military/Police checkpoint. All timber imports from further south have to pass this same checkpoint. The Thai Military are assigned to protect the interests of timber companies (the Chantaburi Military Region are responsible for the entire area which includes Pong Nam Ron to Ban Hat Lek)37. The local population talk openly of cooperation between the KR and the RCAF in the region, to such a degree that the RCAF are known as the "Khmer White." Timber from known KR zones is stored in Thai Government yards and Thai concession holders admit paying off the KR14,18.

The current situation in Cambodia has been described as anarchic19 and one in which the formation of government policies are geared to the short-term gain of those in power, at the expense of the natural environment and population12. These policies threaten Cambodia with social and environmental catastrophe - logging is a major factor in this equation.

Ministers and officials of the RGC are heavily implicated in the destruction of Cambodia's forests and are sanctioning activities contrary to the Constitution of Cambodia13,55. Furthermore, concessions have been granted to raise money for the MOND in order to fight the KR12,56,57 - yet these same concessions are raising funds which enable the KR to continue their war against, amongst others, the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces.

In 1992, the UN passed Resolution 79258, geared to ending the cross border trade between the KR and Thai traders. Due to strong opposition from Thai traders and Japanese timber companies (the latter had invested heavily in sawmill equipment in Cambodia)59, sawn wood was excluded from the remit of 792 and the nature of the trade changed. Though UNTAC observed a reduction in the numbers of raw logs crossing the Thai/Cambodian border in areas where they were able to patrol, there are no reliable estimates as to the volume of raw logs which continued to leave areas controlled by the KR60, and it seems likely that there was no significant reduction in the volume of timber which left Cambodia. In 1992, timber companies in Cambodia took part in what was described as a "logging frenzy;" thus, it seems unlikely that cutting rate was reduced7.

In October 1993, the newly formed RGC temporarily lifted the log export moratorium initiated during the UNTAC period, to allow for the export of "old" timber, defined as wood from trees which were felled before the imposition of the original UN moratorium12,19. The relaxing of this moratorium proved a disaster for Cambodia's forests, indicating the ease by which export restrictions could be lifted under pressure from companies with vested interests. - The argument was presented that old, already cut timber would rot over the next rainy season and therefore it should be used.

- In principal, this argument makes sense. In practice, the companies involved use their freedom of operation to cut fresh timber, replacing the stocks of felled trees which they were transporting out of Cambodia and into Thailand7,12,19; in effect, they were creating a "bank account", which would remain full and which could be used to lobby for future annulments of export restrictions.

In December 1993, the RGC extended the suspension of the moratorium for a further 3 months. During this period a certificate of origin (CO) system was put in place under the control of the Ministries of Agriculture, Commerce, Finance and occasionally, Foreign Affairs5,19. This generated US$ 35 million in State revenue in the first 3 months of 199419. Although this system created controls at the point of export (and generated state revenue which otherwise would not have been forthcoming), it had negligible control in the concession areas. Fresh cutting took place and the "bank accounts" were re-filled5,61.

At the end of March 1994, the log export moratorium was re-imposed - however, within 2 months, senior members of the Government began authorising "exceptions" to the log export ban.

- 9th May 1994; General Tie Banh, Co-Minister of National Defence, informed Sakthip Krairiksh, Ambassador of Thailand to Phnom Penh, that the 2 Prime Ministers had approved the export of 79,999 and 50,000 m3 of "old logs" by the BLP and "Soufako" companies in Preah Vihear Province, following Cambodian Ministry of National Defence request No 145 & 14662.

- 20th May 1994; General Tea Chamrath & General Tie Banh, the Co-Ministers of National Defence requested approval from the 2 Prime Ministers for the export of 120,000 m3 of logs from Koh Kong Province. Their request was made further to the request of the Governor of Koh Kong Province, who suggested that the logs be sold to Hou Puthong Company - long involved in the logging business in Koh Kong. Approval was given by both Prime Ministers on the 21st May 199456.

By the end of May 1994, the "exceptions" to the logging moratorium had already exceeded the "estimated" 200,000 m3 of "old logs" which were the reason for the original lifting of the moratorium in October 199363, and which had already been exported12. In addition to approving the Ministry of National Defence to authorise log exports, the 2 Prime Ministers also continued to approve the export of timber using the old system of the three, and sometimes four Ministries - thus licenses for an additional 135,000 m3 of timber exports were approved12,19.

- 18th June 1994; the 2 Prime Ministers decided to "Annul the former procedures and regulations on the export of timber"57. This move had various effects;

- It ended the ban on the export of processed and unprocessed timber.

- Ended what little control over exports had been provided by the CO system described above.

- Authorised the 2 Prime Ministers alone, to approve timber exports.

- Granted the Ministry of National Defence an official role in implementing such approvals for the first time12,57.

It is interesting to note that the letter from the 2 Prime Ministers to the Prime Minister of Thailand, Mr Chuan Leekpai, informing him of these "new procedures", was written and sent on the 17th June 1994, the day before the decision had been taken!64

Observers have suggested that both their letter to the Thai Prime Minister and this decision of the 2 Prime Ministers run contrary to the decision of the Council of Minister's meeting held a few days earlier12.

- 20th July 1994; The "Commission to Investigate and Examine the Problem of Unprocessed and Processed Timber", under the control of Nhim Vanda and Tao Seng Huor12,65 (the latter was then the Secretary of State of the Ministry of Agriculture, now the Minister of Agriculture), was the fourth Government decision to mandate a body to inspect already felled timber - in theory, allowing for sound policy decisions to be made. Neither the Commission, nor any of the other bodies has ever produced any report under this mandate19.

The Concession granted to the Samling Corporation is contrary to articles 59 and 90 of the Constitution; and contrary to the Budget law as passed on the 28th December 199312,66.

The scale of concessions and export permits already discussed are dwarfed by the concession granted to the Samling Corporation and signed on the 17th August 1994 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia13.

The document was signed by the Co Ministers in charge of the office of the Council of Ministers, Veng Sereyvuth and Sok An13.

The problems with this concessions are too numerous to list here, but include:-

- The concession grants Samling 800,000 hectares, or roughly 4.5% of the total land area of Cambodia - this is equivalent to approximately 12% of the remaining forest cover of Cambodia67.

- Samling benefits from an 8 year tax holiday13 and may well be able to complete its operations in that time period - thus avoiding paying any tax on the revenue generated by this concession.

- The concession is for a total of 60 years, leaving Samling almost complete control, or "sovereignty" within the concession boundaries during that time13,68.

- charges payable to Cambodia by Samling do not reflect the true value of the timber13,68.

- No environmental impact assessment (EIA) has been carried out in concession areas11,28,68.

- No effective reforestation strategy is detailed in the concession document - which allows for a total levy of $US100,000 for reforestation13,68, only $US32,000 less than the value of the one third tree section seen in Display Tech's rest area in Pong Nam Ron49. Preliminary seed costs alone necessary to reforest an area of 500 hectares are over $US20,00069.

The final and most important aspect of this concession is its secrecy. This concession was signed without being debated by the National Assembly of the Royal Government70. Moreover, the revenue derived from this concession is believed to be part of the secret income, or parallel budget of the Ministry of National Defence, which is formed predominantly from the secret issuing of timber concessions19.

The MOND allocation in 1995 is approximately 30% of the official budget as debated and passed by the National Assembly of the Royal Government19,24.

Evidence suggests there may be a "parallel" budget. Contacts have suggested that 100% of this budget is passed directly to the MOND. One commentator has estimated this parallel budget to be worth approximately 40% of the official budget, and to be made up almost entirely from revenue derived from timber export19.

The Samling concession is believed to form just one part of this parallel budget. GW was informed of the possibility of a further 11, or 12 secret concessions which make up the income of the parallel budget. In addition, GW investigators were told of the imminent signing of another vast concession - with an Indonesian company, which is thought to cover approximately 1 million hectares71.

A situation report from Koh Kong Province dated November 1994, indicates that after payment to the authorities of 15,000 Baht per month, timber traders can export as much timber as they like from KR controlled areas in Koh Kong. The permission they receive is officially for intra-provincial trade, but trucks were observed travelling the entire journey to the coast, under the protection of the Marines under Tea Vinh; brother of the Co-Minister of National Defence, Tea Banh25.

- All provincial officials are alleged to be involved, including Teng Chhuan, Deputy Military Commander of Koh Kong Province, who is also Provincial Representative of Nhim Vanda and Tao Seng Huor's Government Committee described earlier. The money is then divided up for the provincial military, police and members of the Committee - the same Committee that is entrusted with reporting on the status of Cambodia's forests!25

- Reports indicate that the KR receive 1000 Baht for every m3 of timber moved in Koh Kong. This clearly indicates that the activities of RGC officials directly facilitate the generation of income for the KR from logging25.

- All timber concessions are granted by the RGC12,13,14. By granting concessions in KR areas of control and influence, the RGC are providing income for the KR to continue their conflict14,25.

This contradicts the arguments presented by the MOND that they require forestry income to fight the KR, as the trade which they control provides the income for their opponents, at the expense of the environment and population of Cambodia.

- The new RGC logging ban against all fresh cutting came into force on the 1st January 1995 - with yet another amnesty to remove felled logs, which expires 30th April 199511,24,72.

GW investigators obtained conclusive evidence that cutting still continues at concession areas given by the RGC, both within KR and RGC controlled territory1,14,15,16,18.

- The 2 Prime Ministers signed the "Decision on the Procedures for the Export of Round, Sawn and Processed Timber" on the 7th January 199573. The signing appears to have been an attempt to mitigate against gathering protest about Government forestry policy.

This new law cancels previous regulations as defined on the 18th June 199473, providing various articles which give the appearance of greater responsibility and control over the logging industry. However, Article 3 states that, "For the cases of round, sawn and processed timber which are not included in the above plan, an approval for export has to be delivered by the Royal Government."73 In other words, the 2 Prime Ministers can grant further "exceptions" to these new rules at their discretion, without the need for debate in the National Assembly.

The RGC has prepared a report which includes information on the logging issue in preparation for the 1995 ICORC meeting74. Although GW has not seen this document, in the light of suggestions that the Minister of the Environment heard about the Samling deal from a journalist75, and that other ministries have been prevented from inspecting timber operations in Koh Kong25, it is essential to ascertain whether this report presents a true and accurate picture of the situation.

Until this can be ascertained The Council of Ministers cannot make responsible decisions based on inaccurate information concerning the true status of Cambodia's forests and the volume and locations of already felled timber.

The environmental consequences of deforestation, serious in themselves, directly effect human activity and, in this instance, the population's immediate survival. This crucial link is too often ignored.

Cambodia's forests are being logged unsustainably through clear-cutting techniques36,60,69,76. In a pattern clearly established throughout many parts of the world it is shown that once the land is denuded of trees, heavy rains wash away the top soil severely hindering the regrowth of trees which, even if there are any serious attempts at re-forestation, can take hundreds of years to mature. The plant and animal species which depend upon the forest (in Cambodia these include the rhino, tiger and the Kouprey) are denied habitat and face an uncertain future.

Forest loss in Cambodia is already causing severe flooding and drought9,11,28,77. The more forest that is lost, the more serious the problem becomes; the longer the problem lasts and the more difficult it will be to engineer a solution.

Drought: The rainy season in Cambodia usually ends in September. Forests retain enough water to supply the rivers, irrigation ditches and paddy fields necessary to ensure the success of the rice harvest which takes place in early December. Forest loss has resulted in drought and subsequent crop failure11,78.

On the 5th & 6th February 1995 GW visited the villages of Sad Dai, 41 Km north of Phnom Penh on Highway 5, Puork a Mak, 20 Km from the northern town of Siem Reap and the "Widows Village," just outside Siem Reap. The problems encountered were similar in each village, and were severe.

The following information was obtained during an interview and guided inspection with Im Sunit, Vice Chief of the Commune, and Sum Mol, the assistant to the main local pagoda. The village consists of 58 families comprising 315 people. Sad Dai commune relies on subsistence farming78.

Im Sunit emphasised that the commune does not possess sufficient rice paddy to sustain the population. Each family requires 1.5 Ha of rice paddy but the commune only possesses 30 Ha. The local pond and natural stream which used to be 1.8m deep are now totally dry and the villagers have been forced to divert water usually reserved for drinking, washing and for livestock to supply the paddy fields. There was only sufficient water to supply 12 Ha of paddy which yielded a limited crop. The remaining 18 Ha of paddy received no water and suffered total crop failure. Consequently the village is suffering a severe rice shortage78.

In the memory of the commune the rice harvest failed once prior to 1979 and five times since; this year being the worst failure. When questioned, Im Sunit was in no doubt that the failure was due to changes in the ecology caused by deforestation of the mountains. He blamed foreign companies78.

Everybody in the village were displaying the early symptoms of malnutrition. Children had distended stomachs, discoloured hair and, in some cases, were suffering hair loss. Children and adults complained of heart palpitations, constriction of the throat muscles (making breathing difficult) and coughing. Some individuals were already severely underweight and many people, especially children, were suffering from diarrhoea79.

Because the local drinking water supply is almost totally exhausted villagers already weakened by hunger now have to make a 2.5 Km journey to the nearest well to collect water. They have to make this 112 hour journey every morning and evening78.

The village had rice supplies sufficient until early March with no prospect of further supply until the next harvest in December. Villagers were picking lotus leaves and producing bamboo cow-bells to sell in order to purchase rice. Im Sunit said that the plight of Sad Dai was typical of the immediate area but that neighbouring Kompong Speu province was "the worst affected.78"

The Tonle Sap Lake, situated north-west of Phnom Penh, flows into the Mekong at Phnom Penh. The fishing industry based on the Tonle Sap provides a large proportion of the Country's fish (which makes up 70% of Cambodia's protein intake)7. Its unique seasonal flood irrigates rice fields across a wide area.

Between May to November the melt waters from the Mekong's source in Tibet, combined with heavy run off during the rainy season swells the waters of the Mekong to such an extent that it causes the Tonle Sap to reverse its flow inland from its confluence with the Mekong. Historically, the area of the lake increased from 3000 Km2 to 11,000 Km2, its depth increasing from 1.5 m to 14 m80. When the water receded, enough remained in the water table to sustain the rice crop28. It was by harnessing this unique system that the Angkor Empire was reputed to have built its strength81.

Deforestation and gem mining have caused severe siltation reducing the depth of the Tonle Sap. Consequently it floods a much wider area than before, destroying crops and washing away fertile soil. In the dry season the waters recede too quickly to sustain the rice crop28,69.

GW interviewed the Minister for Tourism, His Excellency Veng Sereyvuth, who confirmed that tourism would play a very major role in Cambodia's future prosperity. He said that promoting tourism and preserving the environment "go hand in hand..." and that "...if the environment is destroyed then the tourists won't come." The Minister described his intentions to promote limited "eco-tourism" and to avoid mass tourism72.

It should be noted that Veng Sereyvuth was a co-signatory of the Samling Contract which seriously threatens 800,000 hectares of Cambodia - roughly 12% of its remaining forest cover13,67.

The deforestation of Cambodia has severe implications for the Country's ecology, agriculture, immediate needs of the population, security and future prosperity. The situation is already serious and, even if deforestation was halted immediately, the effects will be felt for years to come.

The purpose of this document is to initiate positive action and act as an information resource. Although GW is able to make some recommendations arising from the findings, certain aspects such as an immediate solution to the problem of famine relief fall outside of the GW remit. The following issues, based upon GW's findings, are of crucial importance to the future of Cambodia and to regional stability. It is clear that the Governments of Cambodia, Thailand and the ICORC donor countries need to closely re-examine these issues.

As long as the KR continue their armed struggle Cambodia will remain unstable, foreign investors will be deterred, defence spending will remain high, aid cannot be freely distributed and the Country's chance of full recovery will be limited. The KR depend on trade with and supplies from Thailand.

- RGC DEFENCE SPENDING: The RGC cite the KR threat as the reason for high defence spending, yet grant timber concessions in areas they know will financially benefit the KR - potentially US$1 million per week from just two sites visited by GW. Thus, the MOND raise money from timber concessions in order to fight the KR, but these same concessions raise money for the KR to fight the RCAF. Therefore it could be construed that the MOND play a major role in fundraising for the KR.

- THAI BORDER CLOSURE: Thailand has consistently misled the international community over its "official" and commercial support for the KR. The Thai authorities know where and how timber is crossing the border and who is involved. Thailand exaggerates the practical difficulties in enforcing the border closure. There appears to be no political will behind the current border "closure" which is why, in reality, it does not exist.

- THE RGC LOG BAN: In Cambodia there is no political will and insufficient resources to enforce the logging ban. It is being consistently and widely abused with the complicity of some Government Ministers, although others, notably in the Ministry of the Environment, do express sincere concern about the future of Cambodia's forests. Thailand publicly states it is fully cooperating with the RGC to enforce the log ban: this is not the case.

- THE TIMBER TRADE: There is no inventory of either standing of felled timber, no effective monitoring of concessions, no effective cooperation with Thai customs to verify export/import figures. The industry is unsustainable and according to various sources including the Cambodian Minister of the Environment, Mok Mareth, Cambodia's forests will be destroyed within five years.

- HUMAN & ENVIRONMENTAL CONSEQUENCES OF THE TIMBER TRADE: The deforestation of Cambodia is destroying an irreplaceable natural resource. The ecology of the Country is being seriously affected, causing drought and floods leading to severe reduction of fish catches and the failure of the rice harvest. Already endangered plant and animal species are losing habitat or are being traded, threatening an area of rich bio-diversity.

- FOREIGN AID: Cambodia relies heavily on much needed foreign aid. It is apparent that more aid is required and that ICORC should extend its remit. This would not only provide some stability but would ensure continued and coordinated international monitoring of the situation in Cambodia. However, this document shows that by working within the constitution, and by enforcing strict management practices, Cambodia could do much more to help itself. All those involved in the timber trade bear responsibility for this irresponsible destruction. Cambodian forests are unlikely to be able to sustain any further commercial exploitation.

However, this document shows that by working within the constitution, and by enforcing strict management practices, Cambodia could do much more to help itself.

All those involved in the timber trade bear responsibility for this irresponsible destruction. Cambodian forests are unlikely to be able to sustain any further commercial exploitation.


1. Interview with Log Truck Driver & Householder, Nuan Sung, Trat Province, Thailand - 26.1.95.
2. Keesee, A; A Baseline Doctrine, Cambodia Study Group, Date
3. PoKempner, D; Human Rights Watch; November 1994.
4. Sam Rainsy; Interview, Asiaweek P37; 30.11.94.
5. Etcheson, C; CORKR; Personal Communication; November 1994.
6. Shawcross, W; Sideshow, London, Fontana Paperbacks; 1980.
7. Rainforest Action Network Report; 1994.
8. The Nation: 22.9.92.
9. Far Eastern Economic Review (FEER); 4.6.92.
10. Geary, K; personal communication; Oxford, UK; June 1994.
11. Mok Mareth, Minister of Environment, Royal Government of Cambodia; Filmed Interview; Phnom Penh; 19.1.95.
12. The Forestry Policy of the Two Prime Ministers and the Destruction of Cambodia; Anon Document; 13.10.94.
13. Investment Agreement - signed by RGC Ministers and Samling Corporation; Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; 17.8.94.
14. Pairath Ch. Charoenphol, Managing Director, Display Tech (Thailand) Ltd, Pattaya, Thailand; Filmed Interview; 8.2.95.
15. Interviews with Timber workers; Trat Province, Thailand; 24-28.1.95.
16. Interview with Manager of Suan Pha Mai Siam "rest area"; Trat Province, Thailand; 26.1.95.
17. Kraisak Choonhaven, Bangkok, Thailand; Filmed Interview; 3.2.95.
18. Larry Bridges Snr, President, Display Tech (Thailand) Ltd, Pattaya, Thailand; Filmed Interview; 8.2.95.
19. Sam Rainsy MP and former Finance Minister, Royal Government of Cambodia, Phnom Penh; Interview; 15.1.95
20. The Nation, 25.11.94.
21. Laem Chabang Port, near Rayong, Thailand; GW film & photographic documentation; 27.1.95.
22. Phnom Penh Post; 16-29.7.93.
23. Lang, C; Personal Communication; Oxford, UK; July 1994.
24. Tea Chamrath, Co-Minister of National Defence, Royal Government of Cambodia, Phnom Penh; Filmed Interview; 20.1.95.
25. Situation Report from Koh Kong Province; Anon; 13.11.94.
26. The Nation, 11.11.94.
27. The Nation, 9.1.95.
28. Senior official (Anon), Ministry of Environment, Royal Government of Cambodia, Phnom Penh; Interview; 13.1.95.
29. New York Times, 19.12.93.
30. The Nation, 25.11.94.
31. US Foreign Operations & Appropriations Act, 1995.
32. Asiaweek; P29; 30.11.94.
33. Bangkok Post; 9.1.95.
34. The Nation; 25.11.94.
35. Bangkok Post; 10.1.95.
36. David Munro, Central Television; Personal Communication; London, UK; April 1994.
37. Thai Marine Officer, Trat Province, Thailand; Interview; 26.1.95
38. Colonel Jirasak Chomprasop, Surin Military Region, Surin, Thailand; Interview; 30.1.95.
39. GW field investigation; photographic/film documentation & Interviews with log workers; 26.1.95.
40. Bangkok Post; 5.12.94.
41. GW estimation - based on data provided at Suan Pha "rest area"; 26.1.95.
42. The Nation, 23.1.95.
43. GW field investigation; photographic/film documentation & interviews with truck drivers & dock workers; 24.1.95.
44. Owner of Mai Kwen Thai Company at Kalaphandha harbour, Trat Province, Thailand; Interview; 24.1.95.
45. GW estimation - based on data provided at Kalaphandha harbour, Trat Province, Thailand; 24.1.95.
46. GW estimation - based on addition of estimates made; see refs 41 &45.
47. GW field investigation; photographic/film documentation & interviews; Pong Nam Ron, Chantaburi Province, Thailand; 28.1.95.
48. GW field investigation; Pong Nam Ron, Chantaburi Province, Thailand; Interviews with villagers; 28.1.95.
49. GW field investigation; Display Tech (Thailand) Ltd "rest area"; Pong Nam Ron, Chantaburi Province, Thailand; Filmed interview with guard; 28.1.95.
50. Haylett, T.D; Lumber World; Filmed interview with Display Tech (Thailand) Ltd, Pattaya,
Thailand; 8.2.95.
51. Jirawat Tangkijngamwong, Deputy Managing Director, Deesawat Industries Co Ltd, Bangkok, Thailand; Interview; 10.2.95.
52. Timber Industry Source; Anon; 2.2.95.
53. GW field investigation; Interview with log truck drivers and owners; Khukan, Sisaket Province, Thailand; 30.1.95.
54. GW field investigation; Interview with shop keepers; Khukan, Sisaket Province, Thailand; 30.1.95. 55. Forest Timber License; signed between RGC Ministers & Officials & SL International Ltd; Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, 17.8.94.
56. Ministry of National Defence, Royal Government of Cambodia, Phnom Penh; Document No 171/94; 20.5.94.
57. Royal Government Document No 65; 18th June 1994.
58. UN Resolution 792;
59. Kyodo News Service; 27.9.90
60. High ranking UNTAC official based at Poipet, Cambodia; Anon; Personal Communication; November 1994.
61. Keesee, A; Personal communication; December 1994.
62. Ministry of National Defence, Royal Government of Cambodia, Phnom Penh; Document No 47/94; 9.5.94.
63. GW estimation; based on addition of timber volumes given in Ministry of National Defence documents, No's 171/94 & 47/94 - see Refs: 56 & 62 above.
64. Letter to Mr Chuan Leekpai, Prime Minister of the Royal Government of Thailand; From Norodom Ranariddh, 1st Prime Minister & Hun Sen, 2nd Prime Minister, Royal Government of Cambodia, Phnom Penh; 17.6.94.
65. Letter from Prince Ranariddh, 1st Prime Minister, Royal Government of Cambodia, to his father, His Majesty King Sihanouk, King of Cambodia; 24th October 1994.
66. The Constitution of the Kingdom of Cambodia; English translation; 1993.
67. GW estimation; based on 35% land area of Cambodia remaining with forest cover.
68. Brief Commentary by environmental lawyer on Investment Agreement between the Royal Government of Cambodia & Samling Corporation; Anon.
69. Forestry Expert; Phnom Penh, Anon; personal communication; February 1995.
70. Letter to the National Assembly of the Royal Government of Cambodia from 8 MP's; Kung Sophat, Ros Hean, Ros Roeun, Maugn Sophan, Kem Sokha, Son Chhay, Meas Chan Leap, Pol Hom; 19.1.95. 71. Anon Government Source; Royal Government of Cambodia, Phnom Penh; February 1995.
72. Veng Sereyvuth, Minister of Tourism & Co-Minister for the Council of Ministers, Royal Government of Cambodia, Phnom Penh; filmed interview; 19.1.95.
73. Royal Government of Cambodia, Phnom Penh; Document No 05 ssr; 7.1. 95.
74. Letter from M.S. Shivakumar, CCC, Phnom Penh; 25.2.95.
75. Journalist based in Phnom Penh, Anon; Personal communication; January 1995.
76. Chris Mullin MP, London, UK; Personal Communication; December 1994.
77. GW field investigation; Rural communities, Phnom Penh and Siem Reap Regions; 5/6.2.95.
78. Im Sunit, Vice Chief, Commune of Sad Dai & Sum Mol, Assistant at the main local pagoda; filmed interview; 5.2.95.
79. GW filmed interview with villagers; Sad Dai Commune; 5.2.95.
80. Cambodia Laos - Travel guide - 1st edition; Nelles Verlag, Munich, Germany; 1994.
81. South East Asian Handbook; 1994.

Spelling: English spellings of Thai and Khmer words and names vary according to the translator and are, broadly, phonetic.

In the interests of safety the identities of some individuals must remain confidential. When referenced these appear as "anon."

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