Agreements between RECOFTC and the Royal Government strengthen community resource management in Cambodia

Sustainable finance and livelihood improvement are identified as new priorities in community-based natural resource management
Shaking hands at the signing
H.E. Keo Omaliss and David Ganz shake hands after signing a Memorandum of Understanding between RECOFTC and the Forestry Administration on 3 September 2019. © Office of Keo Omaliss, Forestry Administration

At a series of signings this past week in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, the Forestry Administration and the Ministry of Environment recognized the importance of local management efforts in protecting the Kingdom’s remaining forests. Officials from both government bodies signed two Memoranda of Understanding with The Center for People and Forests (RECOFTC).

“The Royal Government of Cambodia is committed to conserving forest resources while allowing communities to use those natural resources,” said H.E. Keo Omaliss, director general of the Forestry Administration.

Omaliss’ statement reflects the government’s efforts to protect the country’s forests and promote a more sustainable Cambodia. 

H.E. Sao Sopheap, secretary of state for the Kingdom’s Ministry of Environment, echoed these sentiments. “The environmental sector serves the public by contributing to the conservation of biodiversity for sustainable development in Cambodia,” Sopheap said.

H.E. Sao Sopheap speaks at the MoU signing
H.E. Sao Sopheap speaks before signing the Memorandum of Understanding between RECOFTC and the Ministry of Environment on 4 September 2019. © Office of Sao Sopheap, Ministry of Environment, 2019

Both signings will expand the government’s cooperation with RECOFTC.

Since 2006, RECOFTC has trained more than 20,300 people in Cambodia in community-based natural resource management. The organization’s work has contributed to the development of both the 2006 Community Forestry Guidelines and the 2017 Community Protected Area Guidelines. Both pieces of legislation are critical in establishing community forests and community protected areas in the country.  

Currently, there are 636 community forests and 168 community protected areas across Cambodia. 

“This is a great success for Cambodia, and for the communities who are allowed to access, use and manage the natural resources of Cambodia,” Omaliss said.

According to Omaliss, over 80 percent of Cambodia’s population lives near or in the country’s forests.

But there is still work to do. Cambodia’s forests continue to face threats from land grabbing, illegal logging and unsustainable development. 

To address these problems in this new phase of partnership, RECOFTC will work on developing sustainable financing systems and improving the livelihoods of communities in and around forests.

Chambok Hos patrol
Community members in Phnom Dek Chambok Hos patrol their community forest near Prey Lang Sanctuary. The community has set up an ecotourism business to promote forest conservation. © RECOFTC, 2018

“We need to put communities at the center of how we manage our forests and ensure that their livelihoods continue to improve,” said Hou Kalyan, the director of RECOFTC Cambodia Country Program. “If we do this then it will open up new possibilities for protecting our precious forests.”