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An Assessment of ongoing Community Forestry Initiatives in Cambodia  

An Assessment of ongoing Community Forestry Initiatives in Cambodia

I. Executive Summary Cambodia, with a total land area of 18.15 Million hectares and a population of 11.4 Million people (as per census in March 1998), is a primarily agricultural society. 58% of Cambodia's land area , or 10.6 Mio hectares are covered by forests. The vast majority of Cambodia's rural population lives in absolute poverty and heavily depends on natural resources (mainly forestry and fishery) for their livelihood. Increasing pressure on land,-water,- and forest resources, in the form of extensive logging and fishing operations, jeopardize rural subsistence in many areas. Deforestation rates were estimated to be 700.000 hectares between 1993 and 1997. Community Forestry (CF) in Cambodia has received considerable attention as a potential alternative (or complement) to forest concession management and is regarded amongst donors as one viable concept to improve livelihoods of the rural population in order to prevent further environmental problems and to reduce poverty. The GTZ-Cambodian German Forestry Project, together and in co-operation with it's partner , the Department of Forestry & Wildlife, decided in August 2001 to develop a Forestry Extension Strategy for Cambodia, which will play a vital role in the promotion of Community Forestry in the country. The future Forestry Extension Strategy should build upon existing experiences made in various Community Forestry Projects in Cambodia and draw conclusions from knowledge already available in these field projects. Therefore, in a first attempt, these presently ongoing CF activities in Cambodia should be assessed and analyzed in order to draw conclusions for the future Forestry Extension Strategy. A four-member field team from DFW's Forestry Extension Unit conducted the survey between February 1st and April 12th 2002. In the course of the survey 57 Initiatives were identified, which support CF activities in most Provinces of Cambodia. 27 of these Initiatives were visited at their respective field sites, and interviews took place with field representatives of the respective Initiatives. The interviews were conducted in a semi-structured manner with the help of questionnaires which had been specially developed for the purpose of this survey. The report presents findings and conclusions/recommendations based on the analysis of acquired field data. In addition, the authors introduce new ideas (models) in order to classify the Cambodia forest situation for the purpose of a future Forestry Extension Strategy and develop new ideas how to determine potential future areas feasible for Community Forestry. Findings indicate that CF Initiatives are active in 18 Provinces in Cambodia, but with differing concentration. Most CF sites are to be found in Siem Reap, Pursat, Kampong Chhnang, Kampong Speu, Battambang, Kampong Speu, Koh Kong, Takeo and Ratanakiri. Presently approximately 83.000 hectares in Cambodia are under CF management (including mangroves).This area represents 0.7 % of Cambodia's total forest area suitable for Community Forestry. 404 villages are presently involved in CF activities, and 3.6% (415.000 people) of Cambodia's population presently benefits from CF activities. Findings also show that CF Initiatives have a very high demand for a variety of extension topics. More than 50% of these demands are of technical nature and roughly 25% of the demands express a lack of legal knowledge. As major areas of conflicts in CF Initiatives land grabbing and boundary conflicts have been identified. Other topics assessed during this survey are questions of jurisdiction, co-operating partners and conflict resolution measures. New ideas have been developed in the course of the survey, which include so-called Forestry Extension Categories and Forest Development Goals ( management regimes for these Extension Categories). Accordingly four major Forestry Extension Categories have been identified, which represent areas of similar features regarding the forest condition. The model proved to be useful during the assessment, but requires future adjustments in order to better fit the diversity of existing field situations. Another new approach tries to identify potential future areas for CF in Cambodia, by using a 10 km walking distance between settlements and forests as a major criterion. Accordingly 8.4 Mio hectares of Cambodia's forest land would be suitable for CF. In addition 3.9 Mio hectares of agricultural land could be managed under Farm Forestry aspects, which the authors regard as integral part of Community Forestry. Conclusions and major recommendations include: q To react as soon as possible to prevailing demands in CF Initiatives for legal knowledge. Training material on implications of Land Law, Forestry Law and CF Sub-decree have to be urgently developed q As future areas of concern for CF activities border belts between agricultural areas and neighbouring forest resources have been named due to high population pressure in agricultural regions and a rising demand for forest products. q It is proposed to address the NRM Donor Working Group in the nearest future in order to seek financial assistance in funding CF activities. q The importance of the roles of CF Working Group and CF (provincial) Networks has been stressed. Both entities should play a more dominant role in promoting quicker progress of CF activities in Cambodia before the background of huge potential areas for CF and prevailing poverty in rural areas. CF can play a much bigger role in the government's efforts to reduce poverty. q A national CF Programme should be prepared, which will be integral part of a long term National Forest Programme (NFP) as anticipated in the Statement of the RGC on Forest Policy. The CF Working Group would be the most appropriate institution to facilitate this process. q The good experiences made with Participatory Landuse Planning (PLUP) courses shall be expanded. PLUP can play an important role in a future Forestry Extension Strategy by introducing participatory landuse planning techniques, but also serve as conflict resolution measure. q A number of areas for further research have been proposed. Highest priorities have been given to all efforts to stronger co-operate with forest concessionaires, to develop sustainable CF Management Plans and to develop suitable benefit sharing mechanisms. q A functioning Forestry Extension Strategy could help to more adequately and more quickly promote CF, because despite of all previous efforts to spread the idea of people's involvement in managing natural resources, a comparatively small proportion of Cambodia's population presently benefits on too small areas from Community Forestry.

Published by: Cambodian-German Forestry Project -
Uploaded on: Mar 2004
File size: 5.1 MB - Language: English
Keyword(s): Community Based Organizations , Development Concepts/Approaches , Extension , Forest Management System , Forestry , Social/Community Forestry
Category: Environment

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