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Illegal logging in Snuol Wildlife Sanctuary, Cambodia


Over decades, the Snuol Wildlife Sanctuary, located in Kratie province, Cambodia, has been an area of conflictive legal and illegal logging activities. The Wildlife Sanctuary has a strategic position for loggers and traders, as it is located on the border, allowing to easily trading legal and illegal timber and luxury forest products such as Rosewood to neighbouring Vietnam. It has also been the source of Resin producing trees – a central income source – and many other crucial forest products for neighbouring Khmer villagers, and for indigenous groups such as the Stieng, living within the Sanctuary.

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Illegal logging in Snuol Wildlife Sanctuary, Cambodia
State or province:Kratie
Location of conflict:Snuol 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:Rubber
Biological resources
Project Details and Actors
Project details

This conflict is comprised of various legal and illegal activities, ongoing over years with changing actors, rather than caused by a single project.

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Project area:126,000 (ELC area)
Level of Investment:N/A
Type of populationRural
Affected Population:>35,000
Start of the conflict:01/01/1996
Company names or state enterprises:Samling Group from Malaysia - Forestry, Oil palm cultivation, Propery development
Binh Phouc Kratie Rubber 1 Company from Cambodia - rubber, logging
Binh Phouc Kratie Rubber 2 Company from Cambodia - rubber, logging
Vietnam Rubber Group (VGR) from Vietnam - Rubber industry
Tay Nam K from Vietnam - rubber, forestry
Eastern Rubber (Cambodia) from Cambodia - rubber
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Community Forest Network Cambodia
Women for a Peaceful Environment (Satrey Santepheap Daoembei Parethan (SSP)
Natural Resources and Wildlife Preservation Organisation
A series of other national and international NGOs frequently reported on the case, such as ADHOC, or LICADHO, or Global Wittness Cambodia.
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 government/political parties
Social movements
Ethnically/racially discriminated groups
Local scientists/professionals
Forms of mobilization:Blockades
Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of a network/collective action
Development of alternative proposals
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Property damage/arson
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Food insecurity (crop damage), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Soil erosion, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity
Potential: Air pollution, Soil contamination
Health ImpactsVisible: Violence related health impacts (homicides, rape, etc..), Deaths
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Displacement, Increase in violence and crime, Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Violations of human rights, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Corruption
Criminalization of activists
Deaths, Assassinations, Murders
Institutional changes
Land demarcation
Strengthening of participation
Violent targeting of activists
Application of existing regulations
Project temporarily suspended
Development of alternatives:As a response to heavy legal logging during the 1990s, the Royal Government of Cambodia, in 2002, introduced a nationwide moratorium on logging activities. This moratorium however could not stop illegal logging due to corruption and new traders.
The alternative proposed by the local Community Forest Network (a local EJO, part of a nationwide network) was to establish a formally recognized community forest, governed by the local population, within the Sanctuary. This alternative was finally formally established and recognized by the Ministry of Environment. Nevertheless, illegal logging continued and moreover also Economic Land Concessions (ELC) were granted covering the whole Sanctuary. This development is in direct conflict with the protected environment area and the community forest.
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:The legal and illegal logging continues, while the forest has largely disappeared and livelihoods have been largely destroyed.
Sources & Materials
Related laws and legislations - Juridical texts related to the conflict

2005 Cambodian Subdecree on Economic Land Concessions (ELC)
[click to view]

Cambodian Foresty Laws and Regulations
[click to view]

Cambodian Law on protected areas
[click to view]

References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

(1) ARD 2004: Cambodia - An Assessment of Forest Conflict at the Community Level
[click to view]

Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

(3) Phnom Penh Post Article: Logging Samling Style
[click to view]

(8) Cambodian Daily Article on community activism against forest destruction
[click to view]

(5) Phnom Penh Post Article on illegal wood trade to Vietnam
[click to view]

(10) Phnom Penh Post article on logging and ELCs in Snuol Sanctuary
[click to view]

(4) Cambodian Daily article: Government orders halt to logging concessions
[click to view]

(7) Phnom Penh Post Article: Timber Seized during bust
[click to view]

(9) Morning Star Article on the death of a journalist reporting on the case
[click to view]

(2) Phonm Penh Post article: Loggin mogul blasted
[click to view]

(6) Cambodian Daily article on crackdowns on illegal logging
[click to view]

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

Video showing the deforestion in Snuol Wildlife Sacntuary, by the Phnom Penh Post
[click to view]

Other documents

(12) ADHOC 2013 A turning point? Land, housing and natural resources in Cambodia in 2012 Report by the Human Rights NGO ADHOC
[click to view]

(13) Global Witness 2013: Rubber Barons Report by Global Witness on the involvement of Vietnamese rubber companies in land grabbing in Cambodia and Laos
[click to view]

(11) USAID 2006: Human Impact of forest conflict Report by USAID on forst conflicts
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:A. Scheidel. (ICTA - UAB) arnim.scheidel "at"
Last update11/02/2015
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