Taking a cut: Institutionalised corruption and illegal logging in Cambodia's Aural wildlife sanctuary (2004)

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This report presents the findings of a series of Global Witness investigations into illegal logging in the Aural Wildlife Sanctuary in southwestern Cambodia in 2004. It gives an overview of the industry structure as well as the key players. Its main findings include:
  • in Aural all the public institutions responsible for protecting the forest are corrupted and some, notably RCAF, form the bedrock of the local timber industry;
  • the existing shadow taxation regime functions more efficiently than the national system, underlines the extent of Aural’s governance problems;
  • the lack of rule of law in Aural relates mainly to Cambodia’s pervasive culture of impunity, rather than a shortage of personnel and technical skills, or lack of information about criminal activities;
  • beyond the loss of biodiversity, the environmental services offered by Aural’s forests, notably their role in watershed management, are also in jeopardy;
  • experience elsewhere suggests that deforestation of Mount Aural’s slopes will accelerate soil erosion and flash flooding, impacting negatively on the livelihoods of people living in the surrounding region;
  • corruption in the forest sector is an intrinsic part of the patronage systems that sustain the power of Cambodia’s political elite;
  • donors often appear more interested in disbursing aid for their own sake, than ensuring that Cambodia’s natural resources are managed for all Cambodians and not just a corrupt minority.
The study makes a number of recommendations for the Cambodian government to act on:
  • ensuring full disclosure of documents of public interest concerning the forest sector, for example concession boundaries, investment agreements, details of ownership of the companies concerned, etc.
  • the sector-specific measures should be underpinned by the introduction of an Anti-Corruption Law that imposes severe penalties on officials found guilty of corrupt practices;
  • establishing an independent body comprising ministers, international donors and civil society representatives to monitor usage of Cambodia’s natural resources and revenues generated;
  • withdrawing all military units stationed inside or on the boundaries of protected areas.
The study also highlights that Cambodia’s international donors should link disbursement of non-humanitarian aid to demonstrable progress in implementing these reforms in accordance with set time-lines.
Language: English
Imprint: Global Witness: http://www.globalwitness.org/media_library_get.php/229/TakingaCutHIghRes.pdf. Eldis: http://www.eldis.org/go/topics/resource-guides/environment&amp;id=17980&amp;type=Document<br /> </span> 2004
Series: Report,
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