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Roundup: Laos mulls checkpoints to halt illicit cross-border timber trade


Laos is considering setting up timber truck inspection points near its frontiers to catch suspect smugglers and curb illegal timber felling in the country.

The move comes as authorities in southern Attapeu province have seized 9,000 cubic meters of unfinished logs since the end of 2015, according to local media Wednesday.

The haul is in addition to the 10,000 cubic meters seized in southern Salavan province over a similar period as reported Monday.

Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith issued an order in May, prohibiting removal and collection of felled logs from the country‘ s forests while strengthening measures against export of undocumented and unfinished timber.

Farmers would suffer from drought and hydroelectric power plants would have no enough water to operate if the current illegal deforestation could not be stopped, he warned.

"Local people have been protecting their forests for generations and they have expressed their trauma in seeing so many huge trees cut," the prime minister said.

"Our officials, especially those retired who have devoted their time to rescuing our nation, said they were moved to tears when seeing trucks loaded with enormous amount of logs emerging from the forests," he added.

Demand for wood products remains high across the region, which poses a challenge to the country as it seeks to halt and reverse deforestation and make the country covered with 70 percent of forest by 2020.

The illicit timber trade drew international attention early this month when a bus loaded with timber exploded on its way to Vietnam in central Khammuan province, killing 10 of the 14 people aboard. Enditem