The Southern Cardamom REDD+ Project protects 497,000 hectares of lowland tropical rainforest in Cambodia’s Cardamom Rainforest Landscape. The Cardamoms form a critical part of the Indo-Burma global biodiversity hotspot – one of the planet’s most significant places for conservation.
The landscape is an important watershed, with 22 major waterways, and provides ecosystem services as the region’s largest climate regulator and carbon sink. Forests of the Cardamoms are threatened due to illegal logging for high value timber and fuel for Cambodia’s garment factories as well as land clearing and deforestation by outsiders in order to sell land. The project addresses these threats through supporting communities and local government with effective protected area management and law enforcement whilst developing alternative livelihoods for community members which are dependent upon maintaining forest cover and biodiversity.
- Area: 479,000 hectares
- Annual Avoided Emissions: 4,000,000 tons of CO2
- Globally Threatened Vertebrates and Trees: 69 species
- Communities Supported: 28
Wildlife Alliance has invested 14 years in helping to conserve the Cardamom Rainforest and has an unrivaled track record of effective law enforcement and protected area management in the landscape. Our unique approach of structured, supervised, and managed law enforcement, in which we technically mentor and coach government law enforcement staff 24-7 in the field, has created a culture of excellence in enforcement and Zero Tolerance of Corruption.
To strengthen good governance: Wildlife Alliance fulfills the role of watchdog conducting good governance oversight, both with the government departments responsible for law enforcement and the rangers themselves. This is a much needed function, which is often overlooked because of the desire of the international community to empower the local rangers. However, our long experience in wildlife and forest protection, has taught us that many years are needed before countries with low government transparency such as Cambodia are mature enough to be accountable for effective biodiversity protection.
Wildlife Alliance builds the capacity of rangers on a daily basis, through on-the-job coaching by Wildlife Alliance officers living and working with the rangers. Our experience has shown that this methodology is very effective not only in ensuring the management of the station (including budget, logistics, equipment maintenance, first aid), but also in monitoring good governance by providing legal support to the Ministry of Environment rangers tasked with giving penalties and prison term to the offenders.
Our presence and joint work with the government officers has yielded daily benefits: we verify the law enforcement documents that are written on each offender case (which are written by the Ministry of Environment Judicial Police Officers), we make sure that the legal penalties are not reduced in exchange for bribes, we monitor that the offenders are taken to court and do not escape, we monitor that the seized wildlife are not resold and that parts of seized timber are not stolen.
Whilst no communities occur inside the forests protected by the REDD+ Project a total of 28 villages, and approximately 68,000 people of whom 16% live below the Cambodian government poverty line, live in the wider landscape. Community focused activities which the project will implement, and which were identified during community consultation workshops, include:
- an expansion of our award-winning Community Based Ecotourism projects which have demonstrably improved community incomes and reduced levels of illegal forest clearance.
- land demarcation and land tenure registration across all communities ensuring permanent and legal access to land for all community members.
- establishment of a community fund for supporting educational scholarships for local students to continue higher education at the provincial and national capitals
The Project’s climate benefits include the avoided emission of approximately 12 million tonnes CO2e during this first monitoring period (2015-2017) and over 115,000 million tonnes CO2e over its 30 year lifetime.
More than 50 IUCN red-listed wildlife are present in the landscape including
- Asian elephant Elephas maximus
- Asiatic black bear Ursus thibetanus
- Sun bear Helarctos malayanus
- Pileated gibbon Hylobates pileatus
- Bengal slow loris Nycticebus bengalensis
- Dhole Cuon alpinus
- Mainland clouded leopard Neofelis nebulosa
- Fishing cat Prionailurus viverrinus
- Marbled cat Pardofelis marmorata
and four critically endangered species:
- Sunda pangolin Manis javonica
- Siamese crocodile Crocodylus siamensis
- Southern river terrapin Batagur affinis
- Giant ibis Thaumatibis gigantea