Forests are crucial for socio-economic improvement and poverty alleviation in Cambodia. They not only provide food and raw materials, but also serve an important life support function by generating oxygen and regulating fresh water through preserving watersheds. As part of Cambodias approach to using, protecting and managing forests for sustainable development, uses and threats need to be weighed against each other and managed appropriately. In Cambodia natural resources are in danger of being overexploited. The Royal Government of Cambodia has taken important steps in mitigating threats to forest through increased community management and good governance. The greatest challenge is lack of human resources and finances for implementing these forest protection measures. Sustainable management of forest resources ensures that commercial forest operations are carried out efficiently; preserves soil; identifies and protects sites of high traditional, historical and archaeological value; maintains the logging productivity of those sites designated for logging in perpetuity; identifies, maintains and protects a broad range of natural habitats with potential scientific and ecological values; protects water resources; allows continued exploitation of non-timber forest resources in a way that permits continued productivity with respect to these resources; ensures that forest activities are carried out in a safe and legal manner; allows existing recreational uses as appropriate and minimizes the adverse effects of forest operations on people and environment. A possible solution to dealing with development and preservation of forests is through Special Management Areas for special purposes such as watershed or soil conservation, wildlife or biodiversity conservation, preservation of seed sources, historical or cultural sites, and areas to be retained in their pristine state and those supporting community livelihoods. The Royal Government of Cambodia and many international agencies have recognized the significance of Cambodias tropical forest, and are showing increased interest in conducting activities that reduce forest degradation or depletion. Many activities currently being undertaken are concentrating on the important links between forests and sustainable development, while at the same time encouraging the protection of representative components of Cambodias forests through a system of protected areas. These approaches will help to ensure the ability of Cambodia to use, protect and manage the forests for sustainable development and prosperity into the future.
Among the ASEAN countries Cambodia is one of the most important sources of tropical hardwood forests, which are a significant renewable natural resource. These forests not only assume an important role in protecting the environment, but are also of critical importance to the socio-economic development of these countries. The management and harvesting of forest resources in a sustainable manner to provide current as well as future needs is an important goal of the Cambodia Government. In order to achieve this goal, however, increased attention must be focused on forest management, especially on forest harvesting practices and poverty reduction. The sustainability of forests will be affected dramatically if proper logging guidelines are not developed, understood and enforced.
Forests have significant roles in the development of Cambodias agriculture, socio-economic, environmental and tourist sectors - especially in the subsistence of local communities. Forests also provide a major source of fuel and building materials for the local populations. Cambodian forests contain substantial biological resources, including valuable plant and wildlife species such as birds, reptiles and mammals, which are among the richest in biological diversity among the countries in the region. Sustainable management in forest use and development is one of the crucial constraints that countries around the world are facing. Among the ASEAN countries, forest criteria and indicators are being developed and used. Each country needs to find a way to prevent its own forest from being destroyed. In Europe, countries are encouraged to implement Forest Certification to help manage and develop forest sustainably. Forest Certification is one of the models with which country members can help one another to curb illegal logging and wood market. Cambodia may choose this method to minimize forest destruction.
In 1970 forest cover was about 13.5 million ha (73 percent of the total land area); however, a study by the FAO in 1997 showed that forest cover is approximately 10.5 million ha (58 percent). The main reasons for deforestation are:
The export of wood and non-timber forest products has been changing from year to year; 41 574 m3 of semi-wood products and 38 tonnes of non-timber forest products were exported in year 2001 (Department of Forestry and Wildlife (DFW) 2001). The majority of the local villagers depend on non-timber forest products (NTFPs) for their livelihood subsistence and timber for house construction. Cambodian hardwoods have been exported to Thailand, Malaysia and Viet Nam for re-export. Raw material like resin is only exported to Viet Nam so far.
Although forest still covers 58 percent of the country area, to some extent, these forests are degraded due to selective cutting of healthier trees rather than the sick or unhealthy ones. Having seen this unsustainable exploitation of forest resource, the DFW has cooperated with the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank to establish several projects including:
Although forests were destroyed for agriculture during the Khmer Rouge regime (1974-1979), forests continued to be destroyed in the war that followed to expose Khmer Rouge guerrillas who hid in the mountains and forested areas. Since many farmers could not return to their former paddy fields due to the guerrillas and land-mines, new areas of land were cleared for agricultural production (Chan Sarun 1997). As the post-war population in Cambodia increased rapidly, more and more forested areas were cleared for firewood and to make way for rice paddies.
Slash and burn is a very common technique since logging dead wood is legal in Cambodia. Deliberately lit forest fires can be seen burning frequently in the national parks in Cambodia, including Kirirom and Bokor. Sections along the new road to the Koh Kong in the Cardamom Mountains are being slashed and burnt to make way for new homes, agricultural plots and building materials for homes and the new road.
Crop cultivation is also common in Cambodia, and farmers commonly cut down forest areas to serve as new plantation regions. This can been seen in the forests of Bokor National Park where banana farmers bordering the park clear the forests to move the plantations between regions.
Angkor Wat and its surrounding forests were established as a National Park in 1925-the first ever in Southeast Asia. Before 1957, about one-third of the country was classified into 173 forest reserves and six wildlife sanctuaries. These accounted for 3.9 and 2.2 million hectares of Cambodian territory respectively (Ashwell 1996).
The forest and wildlife reserves for production were designed to sustainably exploit timber and non-timber forest products (Kol. Touch, Former Forestry Director, 1970, personal communication, 1993-94). Hunting and non-timber forest product (NTFP) collection were allowed only in the buffer zone areas or in production forest areas. Forest rangers would stop any people entering the forest reserves who possessed hunting equipment such as snares or traps. The lighting of forest fires was also very strictly controlled (Chan Sarun, personal communication).
Since 95 percent of the Khmer people believe in Buddhism, pagodas have played a crucial role in wildlife and forest protection-especially in rural areas (pers. observation). Water pools surrounded by small forests are built at most pagodas and serve to sustain local wildlife populations, including fish and amphibians. The forests around pagodas are also used to supply local firewood.
Tree species conservation is of major concern to the forest sector. Cambodia has forest concession areas that allow supervised logging. The concessionaire is responsible and accountable for protection and maintenance of productivity in the production zone within the forest concession area (DFW 2000).
DANIDA has been working closely with the Royal Government of Cambodia (Department of Forestry and Wildlife) to maintain endemic commercial tree species (Cambodia Tree Seed Project/DANIDA, 2001). DANIDAs goal is to protect forests though collaboration with the Department of Forestry and Wildlife (DFW) in forest concession areas, and with the Ministry of Environment (MoE) under the Royal-Decree Protected Areas. For the long-term sustainable use of forests and wildlife within the DFW forest jurisdiction areas, the DFW has endorsed that wherever forests are indigenous and valuable to the economy and regional ecology, forest concessions should be cancelled.
Cambodia has a relatively long history of supplying NTFPs and construction timbers to neighbouring countries such as Thailand, Viet Nam, China and Japan. Cambodia continues to provide timber to local, regional, and international markets - legally and illegally.
In order to cope with forest destruction, the Royal Government of Cambodia has implemented management policies as follows:
In order to provide the foundation for achieving sustainable forest management, the Cambodian Code of Practice for Forest Harvesting was prepared in 1997 with technical assistance from the World Bank Project on Forest Concession Management in cooperation with FORTECH, a forest-consulting firm.
The Code of Practice is a legal instrument for achieving sustainable forest management on forest concession lands. Its primary purpose is to prescribe harvesting practices that protect the environment, conserve biodiversity and promote forest development consistent with the principles of sustainable development. The Code of Practice also provides guidance for protecting sites of cultural significance, maintaining forest regenerative capacity, improving the economic and social contributions of forestry, and ensuring the health and safety of forest workers. The initial development of the Code was completed in mid-1999 and distributed to forest concessionaires and other relevant stakeholders.
The Cambodia Code of Practice was developed in the following series of stages:
The Code of Practice provides prescriptive guidelines for harvesting operations that include:
A selective logging system has been developed to manage the countrys dipterocarp forests. Practices that are included in this selective logging system include:
tree marking, the practice of marking the trees that will be left as residuals to compose future crop trees, and the trees that will be harvested for the manufacture of plywood and other wood products;
timber harvesting, in which the volume of timber that may be harvested within production young growth forests is determined by an allowable, cut formula;
residual inventory, the field evaluation of marked residual trees left after logging;
forest stand improvement, the post-logging practice composed of refining and liberating components to improve the growth, quality and composition of the growing residual stock; and effective forest protection.
Subsequent to adopting the Code of Practice, the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) has initiated several programmes to facilitate its implementation by:
increasing awareness among forest concessionaires and other stakeholders with respect to understanding the benefits of the Code, and the implementation of harvesting operations in accordance with the Code to ensure sustainable forest management in forest concessions;
strengthening political support from provincial governors and relevant Ministries, particularly in the preparation and adoption of a Sub-Decree on Forest Concession Management that includes provisions to increase local community participation in activities to protect and manage forests in compliance with the Code;
training by field forest officers for logging operation planners, logging supervisors, and forest machine and chainsaw operators;
preparing technical guidelines for implementing the Code, including guidelines providing directives on forest concession management planning systems, inventories associated with the forest management cycle, biodiversity conservation in managed forests, issues associated with social forestry, timber theft management, forest engineering, environmental impact assessments, special management areas, the selection of suitable systems of silviculture, and forest improvement;
forest reservation and reforestation systems for the management of wildlife habitats, water catchment protection and forest monitoring;
preparing a forest concession management planning manual in order to provide the foundation for implementing the Codes basic regulations and guidelines in a consistent manner;
establishing a forest concession management and control pilot project funded through a World Bank Learning and Innovation Loan that will be providing technical assistance for developing comprehensive forest concession management plans, including environmental and social impact analyses consistent with international standards;
conducting harvesting assessments of forest concessionaires in compliance with the Code at the closure of annual harvesting operations on 31 December of each year.
The initial results of implementing the Code of Practice for Forest Harvesting in Cambodia indicate that there have been several immediate benefits, particularly the increased understanding of sustainable forest management practices by those who plan and supervise logging operations, as well as by forest machine and chainsaw operators.
The DFW has been using the Forestry Kret-Chbap No. 35 for forest management since 1998. The new Law on Forestry was ratified in August 2002. The Law clearly defines the rights of use of NTFPs for the local people either outside or inside forest concession areas. The Community Forestry Law is in the consultation phase with government and private forest sectors such as the Cambodia Timber Industry Association (CTIA). The law allows more forestry rights to local communes for their use of timber and non-timber forest products. Moreover, local commune members will have more rights to manage the forests of their own communes, either natural or plantation forests.
Community forestry management
Reforestation efforts are following the Royal Government of Cambodias policy to reform the forestry sector at provincial levels. Trees have been planted in 8325 ha of state areas and the DFW has a five-year rehabilitation strategy for 250 000 ha of degraded land. This strategy includes planting state tree farms, developing commercial tree plantations in degraded areas and encouraging individuals and the private sector to participate in agroforestry and community forestry.
To ensure the supply of fast growth seedlings, seed quality and sources need to be considered. Natural seed-trees (mother trees) are in great demand and protected areas should be enforced wherever these seed-trees occur. Part of forest concessions may be allocated to protected areas if necessary. Through the DANIDA Tree Seed Project (Cambodia Tree Seed Project Workshop, 2001), the DFW has distributed 2 million seedlings through cooperating with a number of NGOs and students.
The DFW has been cooperating with national and international agencies to develop community forestry programmes, to develop and improve human resources and to encourage the local people to participate in sustainable forest management and in forest protection. Also, national and international agencies and donor agencies have supported and actively participated in encouraging community forestry practices.
Forest policy implementation
In July 1996 the Royal Government of Cambodia established a Secretariat of National Committee for Forest Policy Reform. The Secretariat, which was established under a World Bank loan, has reviewed and identified four main forestry issues to be addressed:
Implementing the new Law on Forestry has been started since early 2003. The DFW/MAFF is leading the implementation. It is hoped that full enforcement of the new Law would be in the year 2004.
In order to effectively eliminate illegal forest activities the Royal Government of Cambodia has been developing and implementing a number of policies and regulations, including:
Patrols need to be conducted in both towns and within forest areas. Provincial foresters often work in forest regions, especially along the international borders. However, they lack the financial support to investigate and act on illegal logging activities. Insufficient equipment and financial support have caused difficulty in coping with illegal activities in the jungle. Moreover, rogue military based in the remote areas get involved in the illegal activities.
In 2002 there were about 800 staff members in the DFW and about 1000 forestry staff members countrywide. In general, the capacity of the DFW staff is limited and there is insufficient training provided to do the work-this is further affected by the lack of funds for forestry operations.
Communities and forests
The local people collect NTFPs and timber both in and around protected forest areas for local subsistence including:
The new Law on Forestry allows the local ethnic minority consumption of natural resources. However, some NTFPs such as rattan and bamboo are occasionally harvested for commercial purpose.
FORESTS AND PROTECTED AREAS
Forest protection and conservation
Forest protection/protected areas may offer a significant contribution to sustain forest development. Communities depend on forests for many resources, including water, NTFPs, timber and wildlife. Forest protection areas play a very important role as sources of tree pollination and animal refuge to the adjacent forest areas. The Department of Forestry and Wildlife, under the guidance of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, has been concerned very much with sustainable forest and wildlife management.
Community-based management of the Mondulkiri Protected Forest and Transboundary Conservation is being considered in the allocation of the area as a forest preserve for production. The ITTO considers the site as a sole area for long-term forest management in northeast Cambodia along the Viet Nam border in cooperation with the Vietnamese government (Gasana & Sun Hean, in press). The WWF Cambodia receives financial funding for a two-year (2003-2004) project to develop the area for sustainable use based on ecotourism (Goodman et al. 2003). The area contains large waterbirds such as crane and raptor (meat eating bird), lots of small streams where luxury tree species are found, and large mammals such as water buffalo, elephant, tiger and deer. Many species of reptiles including turtle and monitor lizard can be encountered within the area. NTFPs such as rattan and wild fruit tree also occur in this area.
Forestry and water catchments
The provinces surrounding the Cardamom Mountains (Koh Kong, Kampong Chhnang and Pausat) rely heavily on the forest for resources. In addition, the Cardamom Mountain range is a crucial water catchment in Cambodia and affects the Tonle Sap. Cambodian people depend on the fish protein from the Tonle Sap Lake and fish from Tonle Sap is exported every year. Deforestation can lead to increased sedimentation in waterways, and cause sedimentation in the Tonle Sap. Attention needs to be paid to forests and protected areas as essential water resource regulators.
Cambodia has seven national parks, ten wildlife sanctuaries, three protected landscapes and four multiple-use areas. On 25 January 2000, the Prime Minister of Cambodia officially inaugurated the Phnom Tamao Zoological Park, Wildlife Rescue Centre (1200 ha). The Phnom Tamao Zoological Park is also used as a breeding-release centre and will be a captive breeding centre in the future. An area of 12 650 ha in Banteay Meanchey Province has been designated as a crane conservation area. These designations have a significant effect on biodiversity conservation aspects, both in situ and ex situ. People near and around the zoo and sanctuaries have been aware of conservation and sustainable development within their own communities. Moreover, the Phnom Tamao area, which had once been cleared, has now become reforested both naturally and artificially.
CITES held a four-day regional meeting on the International Treaty on Trade in Endangered Plant and Wildlife Species in Phnom Penh from 21 to 24 February 2000, to discuss and find appropriate solutions to CITES in the Asian region. Restriction on wildlife export has been improved since Cambodia became a CITES member. Government agencies such as the Customs are aware of strict control of the trade in wildlife.
After ten years effort by the Department of Forestry and Wildlife and improvement of the internal political situation, the Cambodian government has become aware of the importance of biodiversity conservation. The Central Cardamom Mountain area of 330 923 ha was declared a Forest Protection and Water Catchment Site in 2001. Among others the Central Cardamom Protection Forest might be proposed to be a World Heritage Site (DFW; CI; and Tim Wong, IUCN, personal communication.). Ang Tra Peang Thmor, the Crane Sanctuary, also was designated by the MAFF to be protected. At the moment the Sanctuary is getting financial support from the Wildlife Conservation Society and small support also from the Crane International Foundation. The other two proposed forest protected areas are the Mondulkiri and Preah Vihear sites. These two are in the process of submission for final declaration from the cabinet of the Prime Minister.
Forests are crucial for socio-economic improvement and poverty alleviation in Cambodia. They not only provide food and raw materials, but also serve as an important life support function by generating oxygen and regulating fresh water through preserving watersheds. As part of Cambodias approach to using, protecting and managing forests for sustainable development, uses and threats need to be weighed up against each other and managed appropriately.
Cambodia has achieved some progress in this direction. However, natural resources are in danger of being privatized and overexploited. The Royal Government of Cambodia has taken important steps in mitigating threats to forests through increased community management and good governance. The greatest challenge is lack of human resources and financial funding for implementing these forest protection measures. Sustainable management of forest resources ensures that commercial forest operations are carried out efficiently to preserve soil value; identify and protect sites of high traditional, historical and archaeological values; maintain the logging productivity of those sites designated for logging over many cutting cycles; identify, maintain and protect a broad range of natural habitats with potential scientific and ecological values; protect water resources; allow continued exploitation of non-timber forest resources in a way that permits continued productivity with respect to these resources; ensure that forest activities are carried out in a safe and legal manner; allow existing recreational uses as appropriate; and minimize the adverse effects of forest operations on people and environment (DFW 2000).
A possible solution to dealing with development and preservation of forests is through special management areas. The objective is to recognize the unique value of select forest resources within the forest concession area and designate them as special management areas excluded from commercial logging and annual allowable cut. The principal types of special management area include watershed or soil conservation; wildlife or biodiversity conservation; preservation of seed sources; historical or cultural sites; areas to be retained in their pristine state and those supporting community livelihoods (DFW 2000).
The Royal Government of Cambodia and many international agencies, including ASOF (Asian Senior on Forestry), have recognized the significance of Cambodias tropical forest, and are showing increased interest in conducting activities that reduce forest degradation or depletion. Lots of activities currently being undertaken are concentrating on the important links between forests and sustainable development, at the same time encouraging the protection of representative components of Cambodias forests through a system of protected areas. These approaches will help to ensure the ability of Cambodia to use, protect and manage forests for sustainable development and prosperity into the future.
RECOMMENDATIONS (STRATEGIES FOR BETTER MANAGEMENT)
Since some work has been done both on paper and on the ground, the immediate needs are as follows:
Appanah, S. & Kleine, M. 2001. Auditing of sustainable forest management. ASEAN state of the environment report 2000. ASEAN Secretariat, Public Information Unit.
Cambodia Tree Seed Project/DANIDA. 2001. Priority Tree Species Workshop, Phnom Penh, 2000.
Chan Sarun. 1997. Prey rhek (Torn forest).
Department of Forestry and Wildlife. 1992. The collection of legislation on forestry.
Department of Forestry and Wildlife. 1999. Code of practice for forest harvesting.
Department of Forestry and Wildlife. 2000. Forest concession management planning manual.
Department of Forestry and Wildlife. 2001. Journal Vol. 25: 28.
Forest Alliance Bulletin. December 31, 2001.
Global Witness. May 2000. The logging sound is noisier than government promise.
Goodman, P., Convey, T. & Timmins, R. 2003. Sustainable use of natural resources by ecotourism development. Technical Report, WWF Cambodia.
Sahlee, C. 2001. An overview of ASEAN protected area systems. ASEAN Biodiversity 1 (1 & 2): 27.
Sahlee, C. & Blastique, T. 2001. Description and analysis of the protected area system in the Philippines. ASEAN Biodiversity 1 (1 & 2): 28-30.
Sahlee, C. & Rambaldi, G. 2001. A review of the protected area system of Thailand. ASEAN Biodiversity 1(3): 36-41.
Smith, J.D. (ed.). 2001. Biodiversity, the life of Cambodia. Cambodian biodiversity status report 2001. Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Cambodia Biodiversity Enabling Activity.
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