Cambodian Ministry of Environment awards forest-dependent communities long-term rights to manage forest resources
On April 6, 2016 the Cambodian Ministry of Environment (MoE) achieved a milestone by approving five community protected area management plans (CPAMPs), three in Pursat and two in Battambang provinces. The approved management plans are important legal instruments that give forest-dependent communities long-term rights to sustainably manage and benefit from forest resources in community protected areas (CPAs). This is particularly significant due the stricter regulations in CPAs compared to community forests (CFs).
The CPAMP serves as the local communities’ roadmap for sustainable community management and development of forest resources. Furthermore, the CPAMP includes a community business plan which is important for achieving profitable and sustainable livelihood for local villagers.
The five approved management plans are part of the Sustainable Forest Management (SFM) project funded by the United Nations Development Program-Global Environment Facility (UNDP-GEF), and co-implemented by RECOFTC-The Center for People and Forests and the Mlup Baitong organization in collaboration with MoE’s General Department of Administration for Nature Conservation and Protection (GDANCP). The SFM project ran for 44 months kicking off in 2012. It supports 11 CPA sites in four target provinces: Kampong Speu, Kampong Chhnang, Pursat and Battambang.
Mr. Chhneang Kirivuth, RECOFTC’s Community Forestry Partnership Coordinator, who oversaw the SFM project, says that at the beginning of project implementation, the team encountered some challenges with local government line departments. However, he says, the problems were mutually resolved with a series of coordination meetings organized by RECOFTC.
RECOFTC’s technical and financial contributions during the development of the management plans include using a training of trainers approach to build the capacity of national and sub-national government staff. This includes the MoE, respective provincial Department of Environment, Wildlife Sanctuary (DEWS) and implementing partner, Mlup Baitung. Trained individuals further delivered field level trainings to members of CPA management committees, commune councils, and village chiefs. The trainings include CPAMCs institutional strengthening, participatory resource assessment, forest inventory, management and business plan development.
Relevant institutions and local authorities acknowledge RECOFTC’s ‘training for action’ capacity building approach as vital in guiding the development, completion and submission of 11 CPA management and business plans for MoE’s endorsements in September last year. The approval of five CPAMPs is a positive sign for the future management of CPAs in Cambodia. Mr. Kirivuth says with hope that the remaining six will receive the MoE’s approval soon.