Published: Friday 31 May 1996

Even as the country is emerging from the ruins of decades of war, it is faced with another kind of threat. Continuing violence and an open market economy have brought the country on the brink of environmental devastation. Unchecked logging could lead to disasters such as soil erosion and flooding. Though logging has been banned in most Asian countries, logging companies see in Cambodia a new "Eldorado". The Cambodian government recently issued 30 logging concessions. According to calculations done by the London-based NGO called Global Witness, the concessions would cover a total surface area of 6.4 million ha, which is roughly equivalent to the country's remaining forest cover. Logging companies have a free hand in the border areas once they pay unofficial taxes to rebel forces who actually control these areas.

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