The Forestry Administration yesterday launched a new US$3.8 million project to conserve forests in four provinces in the Cardamom region through sustainable community forestry.
Kampong Speu, Kampong Chhnang, Pursat and Battambang provinces have been targeted because they contain forests with “globally significant biodiversity … and at the same time act as major carbon reserves”, yet face threats from logging and land concessions, according to an official summary of the project plan.
The new project is funded by the Global Environmental Facility, an independent financial institution initially created in 1991 by the World Bank and the United Nations Development Programme.
Lay Khim, local head of the environment and energy programme at UNDP, told The Post that the project would help local people manage the forest and improve living standards by giving them opportunities to sell non-timber products including mushrooms, leaves, resin, bark and roots.
“This project aims also to look at how we can support the business development of those [non-timber] products, because we need to think more than the raw product,” he said.
“Otherwise people will collect the products and sell those products [at] a cheap price,” increasing the rate of harvest and threatening the forest.
Forestry Administration director Chheng Kimsun said at a ceremony yesterday that the project would support the government’s stated goal of establishing two million hectares of community-managed forest by 2029.
Currently, he said, 377,502 hectares in 20 provinces involving more than 100,000 families have been slated for community forestry. Of that area, the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries has granted official recognition to 272 communities to manage a total of 237,781 hectares of forest.
Lay Khim said the project could eventually link up with global carbon credit schemes, though he said such arrangements were likely to be several years away.