The Cambodia’s Forests

are critical importance to the socio-economic development of Cambodia. Cambodian people, especially rural communities living in or near forest areas desperately needs natural resources to make their living through timber harvesting, forest and NTFP collection for commercial and subsistence purposes and also to maintain the pristine and clean environment.

Cambodia has one of the highest levels of forest cover in Southeast Asia with over 10 million hectares in 2010. But, however, Cambodia experienced rapid deforestation and forest degradation despite growing interests locally and internationally in protection of forests. In accordance with the trend in the Greater Mekong Sub-region “GMS”, Cambodia had lost 22 % of its forest cover from 73.1% (13.2 million ha) in 1973 to 57% (10.3 million ha) in 2010 (FAO, 2010).

According to CAMBODIA FOREST COVER 2016 which was published in March 2018 by Cambodia’s Ministry of Environment through technical collaboration with Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nation (FAO), Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF), Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and Forestry and Forest Product Research Institute (FFPRI), shows that the forest cover declines from 73.04% in 1965 to 48.14% in 2016 with the underlying causes: civil war, population increase, needs of land for agricultural production and other key sectors.

Cambodia forests are disappearing. Densely forested landscapes have been cleared-cut over the past decade due to higher demand of agricultural land along with gradual population growth and agro-economy development. Highly economic, luxurious rosewood timber tree species like Kranhoung (Dalbergia Cochinchinensis Pierre), Beng (Afzelia Xylocarpa (Kurz) Craib), Thnong (Pterocarpus Macrocarpus Kurz), and Neang Nuon (Dalbergia Bariensis Pierre) among other species, are the rare endangered once and almost gone from the natural forest. If this trend continues, these timber trees will be gone and our young generation will suffer.

Restoring degraded forest lands is essential for human livelihoods and well-being, long-term food security, climate stability, and biodiversity conservation. Royal Government of Cambodia (RGC) has adopted a Cambodia Millennium Development Goal (CMDG) to keep country forest cover at 60 percent and targeted 2 million hectares under community forest management.  The National Forest Program of the Royal Government of Cambodia (RGC) has ambitiously set an annual target of 25,000 ha under tree plantation whether by private sectors or individual household. So far this target has not been reached yet.

One Million Tree Planting Campaign is seen as an important and doable way to gather supports to planting trees to contribute to restoring Cambodia’s remaining forests as well as achieving the annual target of 25,000 hectares.