Published: Saturday 30 September 2000

The Cambodian government has alleged that a Malaysian company is illegally logging in the country's hardwood forest. The accusations have been made on the basis of aerial inspections and onsite visits. The activities of Grand Atlantic Timber International, the company, have threatened the existence of commercially valuable trees, government officials stated.

But when the case came before a provincial court, the judge accepted the claims of the company that it was cutting the trees not for sale but for clearing purposes to build roads and bridges. The judge directed the company to pay official royalty for keeping the logs. No fine was imposed. "Such an activity will encourage further illegal logging," said Jon Buckrell, director of a London-based non-governmental organisation. According to a recent report of the Asian Development Bank, the state of forests management in Cambodia is "alarmingly at odds with the goal of sustainability" and if the policies are not changed, the country's forest would be depleted in a few years.

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