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By New Straits Times - January 25, 2020 @ 1:41pm
THE Siem Reap provincial Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries is offering 10 million riel for anyone with information on those responsible for setting fire to more than 20ha of the kranhuong timber forest in Banteay Srei district.
Its director, Tea Kimsoth, told the Phnom Penh Post that the forest was set on fire on Tuesday evening to claim illegal ownership over the land.
Specialists, local authorities and residents had been protecting the forest since 2012, but failed to prevent it from being set ablaze.
According to Banteay Srei district deputy police chief Ros Sisovanna, the suspects had yet to be identified.
“We suspect that villagers who owned houses and agricultural land near the area burned it secretly so that they could encroach on it. They must have wanted to expand their agricultural land, but we have no evidence against them,” he said.
Seng Lorn, chief of the Forestry Administration in the commune, who led the operation to extinguish the fire told the Post that authorities could not gain immediate access to the land due to the lack of roads in the area.
“We spent more than three hours putting out the flames. Due to the hot weather and shortage of water supply, we don’t expect the burned kranhuong trees to recover until the rainy season,” he said.
Provincial Forestry Administration chief Mong Bunlim said the kranhuong timber forest area in the district covered 2,800ha, adding that the fire was due to arson.
“Article 97 of the Forestry Law stipulates that any person guilty of starting forest fires on purpose and without authorisation will face five to 10 years imprisonment.”
https://www.nst.com.my/world/region/202 ... -arsonists
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