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Illegal rosewood logging in the Cardamom Mountains and killing of forest activist Chut Wutty, Cambodia


Cambodian environmental activist Chut Wutty was shot on April 26, 2012 in the Central Cardamom Protected Forest (CCPF), investigating illegal logging in the conservation area. The CCPF, covering 402,000ha, is among the largest conservation areas in Cambodia, extending itself over various districts. With its great biodiversity, including many endemic and endangered species such as Asian elephants and Siamese Crocodiles, it can be counted among the richest forests in Southeast Asia. Available resin trees are further important income sources of the local population. The Cardamom Forests are also well known for its old growth timber, including precious rosewood with a market value of $5000-$8000 per cubic meter. This has made the area a central target for illegal logging, provoking a rosewood rush, driven largely by highly organized criminal networks, operating on a large scale (1).

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Illegal rosewood logging in the Cardamom Mountains and killing of forest activist Chut Wutty, Cambodia
State or province:Koh Kong
Location of conflict:Russey Chrum village, Thma Bang District
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Biomass and Land Conflicts (Forests, Agriculture, Fisheries and Livestock Management)
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Logging and non timber extraction
Specific commodities:Timber
yellow vine
Project Details and Actors
Project details

This conflict is not related to a single project, but rather to diverse illegal activities. Below, some quantitative information, where available, is provided for related issues.

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Project area:402,000 (protected area)
Level of Investment:unknown
Type of populationRural
Affected Population:unknown
Start of the conflict:01/01/2001
Company names or state enterprises:Timbergreen from Cambodia - illegal logging, logging, timber, rosewood, yellow vine
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:NRPG Natural Resource Protection Group
ARA Arbeitsgemeinschaft Regenwald und Artenschutz
CCHR Cambodian Center for Human Rights
LICADHO Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights
ADHOC Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityHIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
Reaction stageIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups mobilizing:Farmers
Indigenous groups or traditional communities
International ejos
Local ejos
Local scientists/professionals
Religious groups
Forms of mobilization:Blockades
Community-based participative research (popular epidemiology studies, etc..)
Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of a network/collective action
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Media based activism/alternative media
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Property damage/arson
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity
Potential: Soil erosion
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Increase in violence and crime, Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Violations of human rights, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Corruption
Deaths, Assassinations, Murders
Court decision (failure for environmental justice)
Strengthening of participation
Violent targeting of activists
Application of existing regulations
Forest activist Chut Wutty was killed on April 26, 2012
Development of alternatives:This has been a fight against illegal activities. A major alternative development against illegal logging was the establishment of the protected area CCPF (Central Cardamom Protected Forest) in 2001, in which Chut Wutty was involved. This was however before the conflict escalated.
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:There has been heavy illegal logging, and attempts to investigate this led to the killing of activist Chut Wutty. His killing has never been properly investigated.
Sources & Materials
Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

Article from the journalist who accompanied Chut Wutty the day he was killed
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Chut Wutty on Wikipedia
[click to view]

(3) Phnom Penh Post Article: Court drops Wutty case
[click to view]

(4) Phnom Penh Post Article: Timbergreen official questioned in Chut Wutty shooting
[click to view]

(1) Phnom Penh Post article: logging-wild-west
[click to view]

(2) Phnom Penh Post article: Chut Wutty slaying puts timbergreen logging in spotlight
[click to view]

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

Australia news report on the death of Chut Wutty
[click to view]

Short video on the life and death of Chut Wutty
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:A. Scheidel (ICTA) / arnim.scheidel "at"
Last update18/08/2019
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