Cambodia expects to be able to generate additional revenue from the sale of carbon credits in international markets, as the country’s REDD Plus project – led by the Ministry of Environment in the northern highlands’ Phnom Tnout-Phnom Pok and Prey Lang – is likely to be recognised by the Financial Sustainability List in the next few years.

Ministry spokesman Neth Pheaktra told The Post this is another positive result of the government and conservation partners’ efforts to improve resource management. He said conservation in Cambodia had improved dramatically and this could be seen in its carbon credit sales. The revenue had been used for strengthening conservation, community development and improving the local economy.

“The ministry authorised the Cambodian Wildlife Conservation Society Cambodia (WCS Cambodia) – with support from the US Agency for International Development (USAID) – to conduct a forest inventory and sell carbon credits, with the assistance of sustainable carbon broker Everland. The areas selected were a number of protected natural resources in Preah Vihear province,” he said.

Pheaktra said the areas which sell carbon credits include Chheb Wildlife Sanctuaries, Kulen Promtep wildlife sanctuary, Preah Roka, Phnom Tbaeng Natural Heritage Park and Phnom Tnout-Phnom Pok Wildlife Sanctuary.

He added that WCS Cambodia, which implements the project and facilitates the sale of carbon credits in the voluntary market, completed the inventory and consulting phase with local communities and then reviewed zoning to assess biomass levels. The next stages carried out were community meetings and assessments by independent appraisers. Subject to the appraisal, the credits entered the public market.

He said Prey Lang Wildlife Sanctuary – where a carbon credit project is being implemented by Conservation International Foundation and Japanese-owned firm Mitsui in Stung Treng province – is also expected to expand its carbon credit sales to three provinces: Preah Vihear, Kampong Thom and Kratie.

“The ministry would like to thank all conservation and development partners, including USAID, for providing the technical assistance that allowed us to participate in the protection and conservation of natural resources,” he said.

The carbon credit market is very important for Cambodia and the steps taken to access the market clearly underscore the Kingdom’s improved protection of natural resources, he added.

Since 2016, Cambodia has earned $11.6 million from the sale of carbon credits to major international companies such as Disney, the Kering Group and Shell, he said.

The government has increased the size of protected areas to 41 per cent of the total area of Cambodia, the equivalent of about 7.3 million hectares. This includes 72 separate national parks, wildlife sanctuaries, multi-use areas, natural heritage sites and biodiversity corridors.

There are currently 1,260 park rangers – who collaborate with protected area communities and partner organisations – guarding these precious national treasures.

WCS Cambodia director Ken Serey Rotha told The Post on March 6 that after the success of the project, relevant partners would continue to implement further programmes in the north of the country.

The new projects will focus on wildlife sanctuaries in Preah Vihear province such as Kulen Promtep, Preah Roka and Chheb, which are still under study. The research is scheduled to be completed by the end of this year.

“We are carrying out field work to assess the suitability of these locations for the creation of internationally salable carbon credits,” he said.

According to Serey Rotha, the REDD+ Financial Sustainability List increases confidence in buyers, and also makes it easier for investors to see the differentiation of benefits to stakeholders, especially local communities.

USAID-funded Greening Prey Lang project said on March 4 that WCS and Everland had teamed up to support the design, development, and implementation of 15 REDD + projects worldwide following the success of the Keo Seima project in Cambodia.

Fifteen global REDD+ projects are being implemented – in conjunction with World Wildlife Day 2022 – and are expected to generate up to $2 billion in Voluntary Emission Reductions, or carbon credits, in the next decade.