- Protects one of Asia’s largest tropical rainforests
- Elephants, clouded leopards, and indigenous communities
Southern Cardamom protects 497,000 hectares of lowland tropical rainforest in Cambodia’s Cardamom Rainforest landscape. The Cardamoms are a critical part of the Indo-Burma global biodiversity hotspot – one of the planet’s highest conservation priorities. Their forests are threatened by illegal logging for high value timber, fuel for Cambodia’s garment factories, and deforestation by outsiders for land sales. The project addresses these threats by supporting communities and local government with protected area management, law enforcement, and by helping to develop alternative livelihoods that depend on forests and biodiversity.
The Cardamom landscape is the region’s largest climate regulator and carbon sink, critical habitat for countless species, and, with 22 major waterways, an important watershed. The project supports a team of 98 rangers and 25 anti-poaching community members that patrol the forests and monitor activities. Acting as a watchdog for both government departments and frontline rangers, staff verify all law enforcement actions – such as ensuring that appropriate penalties are imposed or that seized timber is not stolen – and build ranger capacity through daily, on-the-job coaching.
Around 16,000 people, many of whom are below the poverty line, live in the areas surrounding the project. Southern Cardamom is providing scholarships for higher education through a community fund; helping to ensure permanent land access for all community members through tenure registration; and expanding its award-winning community-based ecotourism projects, which have demonstrably raised incomes and reduced deforestation.
Southern Cardamom will prevent the emissions of 110 million tonnes of CO2 over its 30-year lifetime, validated and verified under the Verified Carbon Standard (VCS). It has also achieved CCB Gold status for exceptional climate and biodiversity benefits.
The project is home to more than 50 endangered species such as the Asian forest elephant, Asiatic black bear, sun bear, pileated gibbon, Bengal slow loris, mainland clouded leopard, and fishing cat, as well as the critically endangered Sunda pangolin, Siamese crocodile, Southern river terrapin, and giant ibis.