Forest officials in Saravan province will continue encouraging villagers to hand in their illegal chainsaws with authorities suspecting that many are still concealed.
Last week, over 600 unlawful chainsaws were handed over by people in villages to provincial authorities while officials confiscated others in forests and along roadsides.
An official from the provincial Agriculture and Forestry Department, who asked not to be named, told Vientiane Times on Wednesday they were aware that some people were still hiding their chainsaws in their homes and rice fields.
“The people hiding their unauthorised chainsaws from authorities are believed to be using them to cut trees for household firewood,” he revealed.
The department didn’t have figures for the exact number of trees cut down in the lead up to the crackdown on illegal chainsaws. Saravan provincial authorities’ efforts follow Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith issuing Order No. 15 on May 13 banning the export of unfinished wood product s.
Another official Mr. Hinkeo Prasansack mentioned that most of chainsaws destroyed recently were from villagers in the five districts of Saravan, Lao-ngam, Vapy, Toumlan and Lakhonpheng because authorities encouraged locals to hand over their unlawful items.
Some chainsaws were seized in forests but illegal loggers weren’t caught because they fled the scene just leaving their equipment behind which meant authorities couldn’t bring them to justice.
Most illegal items destroyed had come from people in villages. He also said they were buying them from Chinese vendors; however, this was the responsibility of the provincial Commerce and Industry Department.
Mr. Hinkeo added that lawful chainsaws were registered with the provincial Agriculture and Forestry Department mostly used at sawmills, and each year they needed to be reregistered.
Since the prime minister instructed that all types of forest be closed to logging by June 1, all parties have been prohibited from collecting or removing logs from forest collection yards known locally as Sanam I.
So far, only Xekong province has prosecuted illegal loggers who cut down 70 Long leng trees in forests along the Laos-Vietnam border at the end of last month.
Source: Vientiane Times