Friday, February 17, 2017

Khammuan confiscates large illegal timber haul

By:  Vientiane Times, February 17, 2017

Yommalath district authorities in Khammuan province this week seized illegally harvested timber which was hidden inside a shipping container and buried underground at a sawmill in Donpeuay village.

The incident was outlined by local media after provincial Forest Inspection Division officials teamed up with local authorities to inspect the target area.

A Khammuan province Forest Inspection Division official told Vientiane Times yesterday the team found 2,570 pieces (both small and large) of illegally harvested timber including mai dou (Pterocarpus macrocarpus ) and mai tae khar (Sindora cochinchinensis) varieties.

Near the target area, the officials also unearthed pieces of mai kha young (rosewood) buried and covered with plastic.

Officers believe a gang of timber traders was responsible for collecting the illegal shipment and were preparing to transport it to neighbouring countries.

Police said the provincial inspection unit could not say where the wood came from as they had yet to conclude their investigations.

Meanwhile, officials at Namphao-Chalo border crossing between Khammuan province and Vietnam recently found over 400 pieces of illegally harvested timber hidden inside a water tanker as it was preparing to enter Vietnam.

Namphao international checkpoint officials reported their haul included 242 pieces of mai dou and 168 pieces of timber known locally as mai moon , which is also a valuable species.

Provincial officials also destroyed a large quantity of chainsaws that were thought to be used for illegal logging, demonstrating government efforts to ramp up management and inspection of the unlawful activity.

Provincial police and authorities confiscated almost 1,000 chainsaws from villagers in Thakhaek district, and more from Khounkham and Xaybuathong districts.

According to initial data from a taskforce committee, more than 55,421 cubic metres of illegally felled wood has been impounded since a Prime Ministerial order was issued last year.

Also confiscated were a number of vehicles and equipment used for illegal logging, including 11 snigging trucks, a bulldozer, a log crane vehicle, and a Toyota Fortuner.

Khammuan is one of many provinces across the country in which illegal logging poses a challenge for officials.

To address the issue, authorities are making an extra effort to clamp down on illegal logging following the order issued by Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith in May last year, which banned the export of unfinished wood products.

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