This disastrous flooding resulted from long-standing deforestation. Cambodia's forests have been devastated by the 20 years of Cambodian conflict, where funds for armies are often paid for through raw log exports, especially to Thailand. The conflict involves four factions Front Uni National pour un Cambodge Independent, Neutre, Pacifique et Coop ratif (FUNCINPEC), Khmer People's National liberation Front (KPNLF), the Party of Democratic Kampuchea (DK or so-called Khmer Rouge), and the State of Cambodia (SOC).
Until the ban on log exports was enacted, all three guerrilla factions (FUNCINPEC, KPNLF, and Khmer Rouge) and the SOC government had been involved in logging; which financed their warfare efforts. While the government exported mostly to Japan and Vietnam, the three guerrilla groups (mostly Khmer Rouge) sent logs over the border into Thailand from their territory in western and northern Cambodia.
Thailand had been dependent on imports of timber from neighboring Burma, Laos and Cambodia since a logging ban was introduced in 1989. In an attempt to save what remains of Thailand's devastated forests, many Thai companies (some linked to Thai military) imported wood from Cambodia by purchasing concessions from the Khmer Rouge. Khmer Rouge controlled a huge part of the ThaiȘCambodia border zone (see THAILOG case).
The Thai government advocated a cease fire in Cambodia. However, this was not welcomed by some Thai government leaders who were connected with logging by the military. They actually wanted the continuation of Cambodian conflict. This conflict and massive logging seemed to end when four factions signed the cease fire agreement in France. In October 1991, the Paris Agreements provided for a comprehensive political settlement of the Cambodian conflict. They requested: (a) establishment of a transitional authority to end two decades of war, destruction and suffering; (b) creation of conditions for a lasting peace; (c) the holding of free and democratic elections. The elections involved the participation by the four major parties FUNCINPEC, KPNLF, Khmer Rouge, and SOC. Under the agreement, the UN Transitional Authority in Cambodia (UNTAC) was established on 28 February 1992. The four factions recognized the Supreme National Council of Cambodia (SNC) as the legitimate governing body during the transition period.
The Khmer Rouge often violated the cease fire agreement and tried to disturb the free and democratic election process. On 22 September 1992, SNC agreed to activate a moratorium on log exports. Following this agreement, the UN Security Council adopted the 22 September moratorium (the UN Security Council resolution 792, adopted on 30 November). The UN resolution also urged the importing countries to cooperate within this region. Under the resolution, UNTAC was asked to take measures to implement a moratorium on the export of logs from Cambodia. The ban was enacted on January 1, 1993.
This ban was devastating for the Thai military and logging companies. In order to protest the UN Security Council resolution 792, Thailand barred scheduled United Nations flights (the UN peacekeepers flied regular logistical flights to Bangkok and Utapao airport to the southeast of the Thai capital) from neighboring Cambodia on 1 December 1992. The Thai parliament's House Committee for Foreign Affairs agreed to seek measures to minimize the effect of a UN Security Council ban on oil exports to end timber imports from Khmer Rouge controlled areas in Cambodia. Thailand obeyed the ban ostensibly, but the illegal timber trade continued. Although underground log trade between Thailand and Khmer Rouge continued, the United Nations ban worked well and reduced the exporting logs from Cambodia.
On 31 March 1994, the United Nations ban was expired. The Royal Cambodian government, established after the UN supported election, introduced a domestic ban on timber export (enacted on May 1, 1994). Although this ban made timber trade between Thailand and Khmer Rouge illegal; the trading still continued. Illegal logging exports to Thailand also came from Royal Cambodian military. While Cambodian national budget law says all state revenues must be controlled by the finance ministry, the jurisdiction of timber selling was allocated to the defense ministry. The defense ministry is thought to have begun timber trade with Thailand. Because the Cambodian government was afraid of pressure from the IMF, it changed the jurisdiction of timber selling from the defense ministry to finance ministry.(3)
The Royal Cambodian government ended illegal logging exports by the Cambodian military. But the next threat to Cambodian forests came from a government decision. Cambodia's co Premiers, Prince Norodom Ranarriddh and Hun Sen authorized a logging contract with a Malaysian company (Samling Corporation) in February 1995.(4) The deal provides for a 60 year logging concession covering 800,000 hectares or 4 percent of the entire country. The Royal Government also approved a massive logging deal with an Indonesian timber company (Panin Banking and Property Group). The 50 year contract signed in mid©September allows the Indonesian company to harvest logs on 1.4 million hectares, roughly 15 percent of the Kingdom's remaining forest.(5) Although ban on logging exists, deforestation continues.
Region: East Asia
"Cambodia : Foreign minister'Neighbouring country' illegal logging." BBC Monitoring Service, 14 Mar. 1994. "Cambodia gets World Bank help to protect forests." Reuters World Service, 19 Jan. 1996. "Cambodian PM defends logging concession policy." Reuter World Service, 30 Oct. 1995. "Cambodia's Sihanouk warns about logging." Reuters World Service, 20 Feb. 1995. "Crackdown ordered on border ban violators." Bangkok Post, 26 Jan. 1993. "Deforestation bad for the environment, warns Environment minister." The Cambodia Times, 24-30 Sep. 1995. Dobbs, Leo. "FAO chief reviews tasks facing Cambodia." Reuter News Service, 1 Sept. 1995. "Cambodia runs out of trees with logging concessions." Reuters World Service, 1 Dec. 1995. Dodd, Mark. "Cambodia's Sihanouk criticizes government." Reuters World Service, 21 Feb. 1995. "Cambodia's wild west province braces for change." Reuter News Service, 24 May. 1995. Fawthrop, Tom. "Log exports banned to an ecological disaster." Inter Press Service, 6 Oct. 1992. "Khmer delegates in verbal battle at IMF meet." Bangkok Post 17 Oct. 1991. "King Sihanouk alarmed at the rate of rampant deforestation." The Cambodia Times, 29 Oct-4 Nov. 1995. "Logs continue to be cut illegally in Cambodia." Bangkok Post, 24 Aug. 1993. MacSwan, Angus. "Cambodia to ban exports." The Reuter Library Report, 23 Sept. 1992. Murdoch, Lindsay. "Thailand admits to mad destruction of rainforests." The Age (January 24, 1992). "Nation facing potential natural disaster of widespread floods." The Cambodia Times, 17-23 Sep. 1995. "Over©logging threat to environment." The Cambodia times, 12-19 Nov. 1995. "Paddy fields damaged, eight killed in severe flooding." The Cambodia Times, 29 Oct-4 Nov. 1995. "Peace process in danger of paralysis." UN Chronicle, 3 (March, 1993), 25-27. "Rice for disaster victims." The Cambodia Times, 5-11 Nov. 1995. Thailand bars UN flight from Cambodia." Reuter News Service, 1 Dec 1992. "Thais face new logging blocks as UN ban ends." Reuter News Service, 1 Apr. 1994. Timber deal sealed." The Cambodia Times, 29 Oct-4 Nov. 1995. "Two die as northwest area is hit by severe flooding." The Cambodia Times, 22-28 Oct. 1995. Wallengren, Maja. "Government scraps controversial timber deal." Reuters World Service, 12 Aug. 1994. "Cambodia's Sihanouk calls for log export ban." Reuter News Service, 18 Oct. 1994. Wannabovorn, Sutin. "UN Cambodia chief sees log ban by December 31." The Reuter Library Report, 27 Nov. 1992. "Thais vow protect trade from Cambodia sanctions." The Reuter Library Report, 2 Dec. 1992. "Logging profits fuel Cambodian fighting." Reuter News Service, 7 Mar. 1994. Whitaker, Raymond. Hopes of fil thy lucre fuel drive on Khmer Rouge." Reuter Textline, 8 Jul. 1994. References (1) "Two die as northwest area is hit by sever flooding," The Cambodia Times, 22-28 Oct. 1995. (2) "Paddy fields damaged, eight killed in severe flooding," The Cambodia Times, 29 Oct-4 Nov. 1995. (3) Maja Wallengren, "Government Scraps Controversial Timber Deal," Reuters World Service, 12 Aug. 1994. (4) "Cambodia's Sihanouk Warns About Logging," Reuter News Service, 20 Feb. 1995. (5) Leo Dobbs, "Cambodian Runs Out of Trees with Logging Concessions," Reuters World Service, 1 Dec. 1995. (6) Sutin Wannabovorn, "Logging Profits Fuel Cambodian Fighting," Reuter News Service, 7 Mar. 1994. (7) Angus MacSwan, "Cambodian to Ban Log Exports," The Reuter Library Report, 23 Sep. 1992. (8) Maja Wallengren, " Cambodia's Sihanouk Calls For Log Export Ban," Reuter News Service, 18 Oct. 1994. (9) "King Sihanouk Alarmed at the Rate of Rampant Deforestation," The Cambodia Times, 29 Oct-4 Nov. 1995. (10) The Global Witness report is based on filmed and eyewitness accounts and on interviews with timber company and government officials in Thailand and Cambodia since 13 November 1995, as well as official government documents. See "Cambodia Runs out of Trees with Logging Concessions," Reuters World Service, 1 Dec. 1995.