Conservation International has focused more than 10 years of our work in the Cardamom Mountains.
In 2002, we were extremely pleased that the government set aside 402,000 hectares for the Central Cardamoms Protected Forest (CCPF).
The CCPF has extremely high biodiversity and watershed value. It is home to about one-third of all endangered and rare species in the country’s Forestry Law and almost 50 species listed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature as threatened. It is also the source of some of the country’s largest rivers and safeguards a vital watershed.
Protection of CCPF is particularly exemplary given the larger in-country context of intense economic land concessions and other pressures impacting on forests. CI played a critical role in protecting the CCPF, helping to declare it as a protected forest, conducting research, and generating information about the natural bounty and importance of the CCPF and it resources.
We also developed conservation agreements with communities living in and around the CCPF to help communities protect natural resources and explore alternative livelihoods. And we sub-granted funds to the Forestry Administration to bolster their patrolling and other enforcement efforts.
Through protection of the CCPF, a wealth of ecosystem services are provided to the 2,000 people living inside its borders and the thousands more living around it.
These include forest for sediment control and water-flow regulation; water for fisheries in the Tonle Sap via the Pursat River; and water for hydro-power production south of the CCPF. The potential for forest carbon investments is also being explored, given the Cambodian government’s interest in these projects as part of its national green growth strategy.
Ultimately, CI aims to build national capacity to protect forested ecosystems, develop a trust fund for CCPF, and align partners to protect the zone buffering the CCPF. We aim for a future where forests, watershed and other resources are protected so that biodiversity and the Cambodian people benefit, both now and in the future.
Emmeline Johansen is the regional communications manager, Asia Pacific Field Division, for Conservation International