Posted on 12 October 2018
Nine community forests (CF) in Srepok Wildlife Sanctuary (SWS), were all converted into community protected areas (CPA). This is a result of a transfer in which the land’s administration was handed over from the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) to the Ministry of Environment (MoE).
Nine community forests (CF) in Srepok Wildlife Sanctuary (SWS), were all converted into community protected areas (CPA). This is a result of a transfer in which the land’s administration was handed over from the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) to the Ministry of Environment (MoE). The legal rights of the nine communities to the identified land was recognised after a huge effort by WWF to facilitate cooperation between the communities and government bodies. While the names may have changed from CFs to CPAs, the objective remains the same: guaranteeing local communities exclusive right on sustainable use of natural resources, in return for management and patrolling of the area.
This formal legal status has been created to avoid land grabbing by national or foreign private sector companies investing in large-scale agribusiness or carrying out mining operations. As such, CPAs provide local communities with secured land rights, though not ownership, and improved socio-economic conditions thanks to legal and managed access to natural resources. Organised community patrolling work allows for the protection of the forest against illegal activities.
Management plans of these CPAs, currently sized between 2000 ha to 9000 ha, foresee three management zone types. Firstly, a customary using zone, in which the extraction of non-timber forest products (NTFP) such as honey, resin, bamboo and mushrooms is allowed and cattle may graze. Secondly, a conservation zone, in which no domesticated animals or cattle are allowed. And thirdly, a reforestation zone in which luxury wood, whose prominence has become increasingly rare due to illegal logging, is being replanted.
Over 60% of inhabitants in each community, in which some communities have up to 300 families, are involved in the voluntary programme. Illegal logging and resulting deforestation are still important challenges to be tackled in the EPL. The CPA community rangers are being provided with cameras, hammocks, GPS devices, rain coats, walkie-talkies and gasoline expenses for settlements. The costs are carried by WWF at the moment, but community-based enterprises are expected to be able to cover some expenses in the future. In addition to that, the Cambodian government agreed to provide support of 1,000 USD per year to each CPA.
The exclusive decriminalization of NTFP collection that Indigenous communities have been carrying out for centuries and in return engaging inhabitants in sustainable forestry and nature protection does not only result in traditions surviving until today; the future-oriented approach ensures that they can be practiced in the future as well.
WWF is looking forward to sustaining this project in cooperation with the villages as well as its partners Center for People and Forests (RECOFTC), My Village Organisation (MVi) and the NTFP-Exchange Program, with the generous financial support of its donors such as the BMZ and the EU.