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First national round table

24 October 2001

Acheivements and challenges

The results of the working groups have been compiled and are presented below.

 

Achievements

During the past ten years the Royal Government of Cambodia has taken a series of important steps to ensure the conservation of critical ecosystems and biodiversity. New institutions and legislative measures have been introduced to provide enhanced protection to the natural resource wealth of the country. The achievements include:

  • In 1993 a Royal Decree designated 23 protected areas, setting aside over 18% of the land area to biodiversity and ecosystem conservation.
  • Also in 1993, the Ministry of Environment was established with a department dedicated to managing the national protected areas system.
  • A national sub-committee on conflict resolution for protected areas has been created with linked committees at provincial level.
  • Fish sanctuaries have been established benefiting fish production and consequently socio-economic development.
  • A number of protected areas have received official boundary demarcations which has greatly facilitated their management.
  • There has been increasing government staffing and funding for protected areas.

At all levels, co-operation and co-ordination have improved and awareness of the value of protected areas has increased.

  • There has been increasing participation from local communities in managing protected areas for forestry and fisheries. The concept of community-based natural resource management in protected areas has been introduced.
  • Awareness has increased of the benefits of protected areas among both government staff and the general public.
  • There has been greater co-operation between provincial authorities and local and international organisations in implementing conservation policies and projects.
  • Donors, NGOs and other international organisations have been providing stronger support for protected area management.
  • The navy has become involved in nature conservation.
  • While most protected areas are managed by the Ministry of Environment, one site has been established by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries with more planned, thereby broadening the coverage of ecosystems and species in the national system.

On site, protected areas have seen improvements in their management.

  • The number of park rangers has increased.
  • Infrastructure development within some protected areas has facilitated the work of park rangers.
  • There has been a reduction of illegal activities, including logging, land encroachment, hunting and collection of non-timber forest products within protected areas.
  • Management plans for two national parks have been drafted.

Some benefits of protected areas to socio-economic development are already visible.

  • The operation of a hydropower system including a dam in Kirirom will benefit from effective national park management of the watershed.
  • There has been an increase in tourism activities relating to protected areas.
  • A wide range of medicinal plants from protected areas are used and marketed by local communities
  • Other NTFPs sustain a significant local industry, for example basket weaving using bamboo from Bokor National Park.

Biodiversity monitoring has shown the benefits of protected areas to wildlife populations.

  • A biodiversity and national resources inventory system has been established.
  • In 1994 wildlife populations were survey in selected protected areas.
  • Wildlife population have increased in Kirirom National Park.

 

Challenges

Protected areas are still under-funded and staff lack the resources to carry out their tasks effectively.

  • The capacity of environmental officers and park rangers to carry out their work needs to be strengthened. Government staff have a relatively low technical and managerial capacity and need greater incentives.
  • Equipment and resources for protected area management are inadequate.
  • Generally there is a lack of funding.
  • Finance institutions should provide more support to conservation law making and management on the basis of a greater appreciation for the national development implications.
  • Data collection needs to be enhanced as a basis for sound management.

While public awareness and participation has been growing, there is still limited public understanding about the values of protected areas and public participation in their management is still inadequate.

The plight of the communities living in and around protected areas needs to be considered.

  • The migration of people to National Parks is increasing.
  • Most people in these areas live in poverty.
  • There is inadequate support to local communities so they are forced to exploit resources within the protected areas.
  • There is a high illiteracy rate among people living in and around protected areas.

The legislative framework is still insufficient and law enforcement is weak. So illegal activities such as logging and hunting continue.

Co-operation and co-ordination for protected areas management is still inadequate.

  • Government ministries’ responsibilities often overlap. They need to co-operate more, but should also clarify their roles and functions.
  • Protected areas need immediate intervention by government and international organisations.
  • There remains inadequate support from the international community for conservation.
  • Political support for protected areas is still inadequate.

The importance of protected areas in maintaining water resources should be promoted both for biodiversity conservation and to meet community needs. Government needs to budget more adequately for these critical watershed management functions.

There is continuing pressure on protected areas from development, land encroachment and inefficient land-use.

Ecotourism should be promoted on a more systematic and active way so that groups of protected areas offering a range of interests become key attractions.

 

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