“The Oddar Meanchey REDD project model is centered on local people’s participation in forest management,” said Ty Sokhun, head of Cambodia’s Forestry Administration in 2009. Five years later logging is rampant in the project area. Local people and the project developers are powerless to stop it. The Cambodian government does not seem interested.
This is a story involving a company called Sustainable AgroEnergy, a jatropha plantation in Cambodia, boiler room companies, retail investors asking where their money went, banks in Switzerland, Tanzania and the British Virgin Islands, a member of the House of Lords, and the Serious Fraud Office.
This week, Global Witness released a new report investigating a land grabbing crisis in Laos and Cambodia. The report looks at two Vietnamese “rubber baron” companies, Hoang Anh Gia Lai (HAGL) and the Vietnam Rubber Group (VRG). Global Witness found that these companies “have leased vast tracts of land for plantations in Laos and Cambodia, with disastrous consequences for local communities and the environment”.
Cambodia’s forests face huge threats from illegal logging, mining and land concessions for plantation crops for export like rubber and sugar. Oddar Meanchey province in the country’s northwest has the highest rate of deforestation of any province in the country. Which should make Oddar Meanchey the perfect place for a REDD project.
In November 2011, the US Government’s Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) provided the world’s first political risk insurance policy for a carbon offset project. A recent report by Pacific Environment, FERN and Focus on the Global South questions who stands to benefit from this insurance.
The Phnom Penh Post has published another article in its investigation into corruption and illegal logging on a Conservation International project: “Rangers paid by an internationally funded conservation organisation have been directly profiting for years from the very trade they are supposed to be preventing in southwest Cambodia.”
Last month, the Phnom Penh Post published a shocking article about the illegal logging of rosewood in the Central Cardamom Protected Forest in Cambodia. According to the article, the illegal logging is abetted by military personnel, while Conservation International, which is working with the Cambodian government to manage the protected area, denies that the trade is taking place.
REDD-Monitor is requesting your help to find the best REDD stories contained in the US Embassy Cables that WikiLeaks released last week. WikiLeaks started releasing edited versions of the cables in November 2010, since when the cables have been trickling out. On 31 August 2011, WikiLeaks released 251,287 US Embassy cables. Unredacted.
Earlier this week, around 300 members of the Prey Lang network gathered outside the Royal Palace in Cambodia’s capital Phnom Penh to pray for the protection of the Prey Lang forest – the largest area of intact lowland evergreen forest remaining in southeast Asia. The forest is under severe threat, particularly from a series of large-scale rubber concessions.
In this short video, “Lives of the Forest,” indigenous activists from the Asia Pacific region speak out against REDD. “We find that the way [the international community] took decisions for passing through this REDD mechanism is in complete exclusion of the indigenous peoples,” says Jiten Yumnam of the Meitei people in Manipur, India.