EIA details illegal timber operations between Cambodia and Vietnam

The Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) has released a report detailing unabated illegal logging, timber laundering and smuggling in Cambodia. The report follows earlier EIA reports on Vietnam’s trade in timber illegally harvested in, and illegally imported from, its neighbours. The new report, titled ‘Serial Offender: Vietnam’s continued imports of illegal Cambodian timber,’ finds corrupt officials on both sides complicit.

Drone shot of Cambodia timber depot near Vietnam border by EIA

EIA investigators have identified three areas in Cambodia where illegal logging is occurring on an immense scale, finding that hundreds of thousands of cubic metres of timber are illegally entering Vietnam. In two areas - in the Lower Sesan 2 Dam and in the Phnom Prich Wildlife Sanctuary - companies are using existing permits to launder their timber. Logging in the protected Virachey National Park is occurring under the direct protection of corrupt Cambodian military personnel and forest rangers.

Vietnam is currently preparing to sign and ratify a Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) with the European Union (EU). 



The EIA recommends that the EU ensure FLEGT licensing does not begin until Vietnam has clearly demonstrated that it controls its imports. It should continue to work with Vietnam through the VPA process to ensure it delivers a system to ensure the legality of timber that is robust and fit for purpose. For its part, Vietnam must ensure that officials involved in the current illegal timber trade cannot perform import-control duties in the VPA’s timber legality assurance system. 

The report’s annexes list Cambodian companies at risk of involvement in the illegal Cambodian timber trade to Vietnam, and Vietnamese companies believed to be at risk of involvement in the import of Cambodian timber to Vietnam. 

Special summary: EIA’s Serial Offender