Investigations into the identity of illegal loggers who cut down 70 long leng trees in forests along the border between Laos and Vietnam are progressing with authorities reportedly closing in on perpetrators with a possible public revelation in the case expected this week.
An official from the provincial Agriculture and Forestry Department, who did not wish to be named, told Vientiane Times on Friday last week that Lao authorities joined with Vietnamese counterparts to investigate the case and track down the rogue lumberers.
Known in Laos as long leng and as po mu to the Vietnamese , the scientific name Fokienia hodginsii identifies the rare IUCN-red-listed species referred to in English by the common name Fujian Cypress.
At the end of last month the authorities were still working out where the wood was transported to after the loggers cut the trees down.
“So far, we can insist unofficially that these long leng trees were not transferred somewhere in Laos, nor were the loggers people of Laos,” the official said.
The deputy provincial Governor has received information from Vietnamese authorities pertaining to details of this matter.
According to the source, this week may see an official announcement on the final location of the 70 long leng trees after illegal loggers cut down multiple specimens located along the remote border regions of the two neighbouring countries.
Illegal loggers reportedly felled 43 trees in Nam Giang district in Vietnam’s Quang Nam province and 27 trees in Dakcheuang district, Xekong province.
Based on the Vietnam News, police estimate that the trees were felled and stolen were worth more than US$1million.
It is believed impossible for the loggers to move the wood through forests on the Laos-Vietnam border into Laos because the authorities are keeping a close watch after Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith issued an Order on May 13 banning the export of unfinished wood products.
Meanwhile, more than 600 unlawful chainsaws were handed over by village residents to provincial authorities over the last two weeks in the adjoining province of Saravan.
Officials confiscated others found abandoned in forests and along roadsides.
However, the unauthorised chainsaws proffered to authorities were deemed mostly to be from villagers using them to cut trees for use as household firewood.
Source: Vientiane Times