FAO-EU FLEGT Programme

FAO launches first FLEGT partnership with Cambodia’s Forestry Administration


New project launched by Cambodia’s Forestry Administration strengthens the regulatory framework for plantations as a source of legal timber and livelihoods for small-scale tree farmers

Phnom Penh, 21 January 2021

The FAO-EU Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) Programme has partnered with the Forest Administration (FA) of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) in Cambodia to build forest sector-wide capacity and develop alternative and sustainable sources of timber in the country.

Almost half of Cambodia’s landmass is covered by forest and home to unique biodiversity not found anywhere else in the Mekong region. To reduce strain on Cambodia’s natural forests, and overcome foreseen shortfalls in timber supply, plantation forestry is seen as a reliable and sustainable alternative source of wood in Cambodia that can also boost rural economic development. The establishment of plantations is important due to forest degradation from unsustainable forestry practices in the past, which witnessed the liquidation of existing forests in favour of agricultural commodities. Acknowledging that plantation establishment alone cannot offset the loss or degradation of natural forests, FAO and the FA will explore models for the establishment of plantations that will contribute to forest restoration, provide ecosystem services, and support livelihoods.

Using data for sustainable alternatives

The availability of reliable, accurate data plays a crucial role in countries’ abilities to effectively manage existing natural resources while also reacting to forest degradation trends and loss. As such, the FA will conduct a comprehensive assessment of current tree plantation resources to identify options for future wood supply models. Alongside this, an assessment of supply chains and markets for planted timber will ensure that proposed options meet market demands.

The data will be used to improve and strengthen the regulatory framework for plantation forestry. The project will identify gaps in current governance mechanisms, policies, laws, and regulations, and then propose strategies and actions to fill these gaps.

Targeted interventions to support plantation forestry will be developed following the recommendations of the National Production Forest Strategy, based on the findings of the forest Restoration Opportunities Assessment Methodology and a comprehensive assessment of current tree plantation resources. The FA will produce and disseminate awareness-raising materials to improve the knowledge of smallholder farmers on plantation forestry. Increasing awareness of legal and sustainable timber production methods amongst producers will play a vital role in protecting and enhancing livelihoods as Cambodia continues to implement forest sector reforms.

In parallel, the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation in Cambodia is supporting the development and implementation of a Forest Resource Management Information System to provide up-to-date information on forestry-related trade. This process will include capacity building at national and sub-national levels to enable stakeholders to effectively use the system.

Building multi-level capacity

Increasing the supply of legal timber is just one part of improving forest governance. Legal violations can arise due to limited understanding of the legal requirements related harvesting, and trading timber, and the penalties of criminal actions. To address this, the FA will also undertake three rounds capacity building workshops for the authorities of relevant government officials from different government ministries, private sector actors, and other stakeholders.

These workshops aim to build a shared understanding of oversight and control between different government ministries and improve the implementation of legality verification procedures of timber exports. Forestry officials will be able to provide feedback on the experience of local communities during the trainings.

Cambodia has continued its commitment to the FLEGT process through a newly approved FLEGT Work Plan which outlines targeted interventions based on four thematic areas approved by the MAFF:

  1. develop a Cambodian Timber Legality Definition;
  2. review laws and regulations and take part in the ongoing process of amending regulations;
  3. conduct human resource capacity building;
  4. select model areas for effective piloting of the trading of timber originating from community forestry and plantations.

Increasing sustainable and legal timber through plantations contributes to the overall goal of combatting deforestation in Cambodia while building national capacity ensures the effective implementation of measures which protect forests and livelihoods.  

The FAO-EU FLEGT Programme of the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations is a global demand-driven initiative that provides technical supports and resources for activities that further the goals of the EU’s FLEGT Action Plan. The Programme is funded by the European Union, the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, and the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office of the United Kingdom.