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Plundering Cambodia’s Forests

Cambodia has witnessed some of the most rapid deforestations in the world over the past decade. But a brave local activist is desperately trying to save some of the country’s last remaining forests. Leng Ouch has infiltrated logging syndicates across the country and recorded reams of damning evidence using hidden cameras, drones, GPS trackers and informants. His data indicates an environmental apocalypse carried out by powerful syndicates who seem to operate with near-total impunity on a national scale. Leng has repeatedly tracked huge convoys of trucks packed with timber, driving straight out of protected areas and across the border into Vietnam, through a network of easily found illegal crossings. He has presented his evidence to the government but the timber trucks continue to flow out of protected forests right before his eyes. Leng is furious that despite his evidence, the EU has struck a deal with Vietnam that will allow it to certify its own timber exports to Europe. On the other side of the country, in the Cardamom Mountains, conservation group Wildlife Alliance is fighting to protect one of Cambodia’s few remaining forests. Its rangers have confiscated thousands of chainsaws and helped prosecute offenders caught logging in the protected zone. But the group fears it is only able to protect a fraction of the country’s shrinking forests. 101 East investigates the wholesale destruction of some of the most precious forests left on the Indochina peninsula.

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