The government is aiming to boost the sale of carbon credits by expanding the scheme to all protected areas in Cambodia, according to Ministry of Environment spokesman Neth Pheaktra.

The ministry is currently preparing an additional REDD+ project on 1.19 million hectares of land, which will increase the project’s area to 246 million hectares, or 34.1 per cent of the total protected area.

Speaking at the launch of the sixth zero-snaring campaign in Ratanakkiri province on September 3, Pheaktra said Cambodia currently has the resources to pursue more conservation work than ever before.

This has enabled the Kingdom to generate revenue from conservation through the sale of carbon credits via the REDD+ project – which aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the forestry sector – and Payments for Ecosystem Services (PES).

“Our goal is to encourage the sale of carbon credits across all of our protected areas. Our conservation programmes are now more advanced than ever before,” he said.

Since 2016, he said the ministry had implemented three REDD+ projects in Keo Seima, the South Cardamoms and Prey Lang. The three projects have so far received about $11.6 million from the sale of carbon credits, all of which have been allocated to further environmental conservation. The three projects covered an area of 1.27 million ha.

“Cambodia has now reached a new turning point, earning revenue from the conservation of its natural resources. The ministry is preparing an additional REDD+ project on 1.19 million hectares, which will bring the total REDD+ project area to more than one-third of our protected areas,” he said.

Pheaktra said it is an important turning point that Cambodia can now generate revenue from its conservation. This means an end to the old way of thinking that felling trees is the only way they could receive an income. Cambodia is preserving its precious natural resources under the slogan “Keep the trees standing for the benefit of the economy and society”.

Cambodia’s success in selling carbon credits has raised its national prestige on the international stage and belied the old image of the Kingdom as having some of the highest forest crime rates in the world, he said, adding that not many countries are able to do so.

Pheakdra said the ministry is currently preparing to sell carbon credits at the Phnom Samkos Wildlife Sanctuary in Pursat province.

He said the ministry and its partner organisations are also exploring the sale of carbon credit in Lumphat in Ratanakkiri, and the Sre Pok and Phnom Prich wildlife sanctuaries in neighbouring Mondulkiri province.

At the same time, it is also looking for partner organisations for other sanctuaries, including Chheb, Preah Rokar and Kulen Promtep.

“I believe that through the benefits of carbon credit sales, our forest communities are seeing the value of protecting our natural resources and eliminating forest and wildlife crime in Cambodia,” he said.