First national round table
24 October 2001
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Acheivements and challenges
The results of the working groups have been compiled and are presented
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
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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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.
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
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
- 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
- There remains inadequate support from the international community
- 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
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
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Review of protected areas and their role in socio-economic development
in the four countries of the lower Mekong River region
page updated: 09/02/02