Course:FRST370/Projects/Community forest in Siem Reap village, Cambodia

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The community forest management in Siem Reap is established because of the lack of local community participation in forest management in Cambodia, resulting in forest resource declining in recent decades. Tenure and administrative arrangement has a great change after establishing community forest. Based on the analysis of affected and interested stakeholders, in the discussion part, the community forest situation is demonstrated and followed by problems and conflicts in management. In the assessment and recommendations sections, there are some assessments about the impacts of Siem Reap community forest from various aspects, based on which recommendations are given to improve management strategies of community forest in Siem Reap.

Description

Siem Reap is a popular tourism city in northwestern Cambodia. It is famous for the cultural villages and fishing villages (En.wikipedia.org, 2018). It has rich forest resource like flooded forest which has great commercial and tourism value. Over last decades, the forest resource in Cambodia has been degrading because of over using and lack of local community participation in forest management. As a result of a concern for forest loss in Cambodia, to protect the remaining forest of Cambodia, the Cambodian government began to establish a national community forest program with other donors and NGOs also other international organizations in 1990s (Pasgaard and Nielsen, 2016, p. 136). Siem Reap community forestry project is located in the north of Sot Nikoum district. It is about 45 km from Siam Reap town (Mekonginfo.org, 2000, p. 3).

Tenure arrangements

Historically, the local community has tenured forest for a long time. But due to illegal logging for timber, clearing for farm land, forest fires, forests in the area have degraded quickly. Being aware of forest loss in the area, the local villagers requested the local authorities, relevant authorities, and the FAO to create a community forest (Mekonginfo.org, 2000, p. 5). In order to sustain the forest resources in the community forest, the people are only allowed to collect non-timber forest products for household consumption at present. People use timber only if they have approval from the community forestry committee. The community, outsiders, village head, commune head, and the Provincial Department of Forestry, Fishery, and Wildlife recognizes the land, the resources and by-law about the use of the resources in the area (Mekonginfo.org, 2000, p. 4).


Administrative arrangements

The by-law of the community forest was established in 1998 with participation of all stakeholders, including the forest committee and the commune head. The organizational structure of the community forestry project is based on the volunteered support of each individual, the agreement of the village, the commune authorities and the facilitation of FAO. The organizational structure comprises of a central committee and a subcommittee (Mekonginfo.org, 2000, p. 5). The central committee has a chief, first deputy chief, second deputy chief, a secretary, an accountant, two other members, and a supervisor who is head of the commune. These members were chosen through elections between the heads of villages. FAO plays a role in providing financial and technical support, training in legal systems such as the by-law, management plan, and action plan, in cooperation with the Office of Forestry and Wildlife and local authorities at all levels (Mekonginfo.org, 2000, p. 6).


Affected Stakeholders

Local villagers

Local villagers: The livelihoods of local villagers were heavily dependent on the natural resources of the forest. The main occupations included farming, fishing, wood cutting, charcoal production, and contract laboring. They are the main part of the community forest and funding for community development (De Lopez, T. T, 2001, p. 52).

Tourism industry

Tourism industry: Siem Reap is a popular tourism city so there are many tourism companies. Tourism is the second largest contributor to the Cambodian economy after the garment industry, generating 13% of Cambodian GDP in 2005, and 16% of Cambodian GDP in 2006 (Chheang, 2008, p. 284). There are many community-based ecotourisms also dependent on the natural resources of the forest in Siem Reap.

Cambodian government

Police (Cambodian government): Policing of communities surrounding the forest. But there was a widespread failure to enforce civil and criminal codes in Cambodia (De Lopez, T. T, 2001, p. 56).

Interested Outside Stakeholders

FAO & MoE

FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization) & MoE (Ministry of Environment): Cambodia almost entirely relied on foreign assistance for capital expenditures and the financing of daily operations in the environmental sector (De Lopez, T. T, 2001, p. 52). FAO plays a role in providing financial and technical support, training in legal systems such as the by-law, management plan, and action plan, in cooperation with the Office of Forestry and Wildlife and local authorities at all levels (Mekonginfo.org, 2000, p. 6).

Commercial loggers

Commercial loggers: Commercial logging for the production of charcoal and timber had been the principal cause of deforestation in the forest. Commercial loggers were harvesting trees directly from the forest. Timber was processed on site in sawmills or burned in kilns for charcoal. Local communities strongly disapproved of commercial logging (De Lopez, T. T, 2001, p. 52).

Discussion

Over the past decade, Cambodia government have passed laws and policies to devolve and decentralise government administrative functions to the district and sub-district level officials who are downwardly accountable to local populations (Poffenberger, M. 2006, p. 61). Decentralisation often involves new systems for the election of village representatives, delegation of small development budgets and new authority for the management of natural resources (Poffenberger, M. 2006, p. 62). Community forest in Siem Reap is good example that many social sectors work together to manage the forest. The community forest is managed by local villagers, as well as outsiders, who previously used the forest, and they can still access the forest resources for non-timber forest products such as dead trees, traditional plants, wild fruits, mushroom, fish etc. But they are not allowed to cut trees. At present, there are no big problems or conflicts arising from using the non-timber forest products of the community forest, as the inception of the community forest came at the instigation of the. Besides, outsiders can still access to the non-timber forest products as long as they respect the by-law of the community (Mekonginfo.org, 2000, p. 8)

Assessment

Forest degredation

After community forestry began, the community positively participated in forest protection, which is consistent with the policy of the Royal government that encourages forest maintenance, but has banned illegal logging. The latter is highly threatening to the natural environment and resources in Cambodia, and commercial logging had been put to an end (De Lopez, T. T, 2001, p. 56). The community forestry project promotes cooperation between the community and the local authorities, relevant institutions, the Provincial Department of Forestry, Wildlife and Fishery, and FAO. The community works well for the protection of natural resources, and participates in the formulation of the management plan, the action plan, with the facilitation of the Provincial Department of Forestry, Wildlife and Fishery (Mekonginfo.org, 2000, p. 8).

Farm lands

The current Cambodian CF system is considered“rigid and complex", governments and other international organizations have played key roles in the introduction and maintenance of rigid, complex, expensive community forestry (Kurashima et al., 2015, P. 3092). Before the establishment of the community forest , most households' incomes came from extraction of forest resources and non-timber forest products solely from that area. Thus, community forestry had a negative effect on some households who have no other alternative sources of revenue, such as farm lands. Based on the problem, in the future, new conflicts will be likely to arise when administrations prosecute local farmers for existing illegal cultivation or deprive communities of CF management rights because of the lack of adequate management (Kurashima et al., 2015, P. 3103).

Ecotourisim

As for tourist industry, community forestry did not seem to have effects on tourisim, as they are permitted access to the resources as long as they respect the by-law and regulations of the community forest. Community forestry not only develops its own members, but also allows the outsiders have opportunities to learn, listen, and observe the project, and there are many other benefits of community forestry, such as the presence of increased forest rainfalls, improved soil quality, and thriving wildlife (Mekonginfo.org, 2000, p. 9).

Recommendations

Encourage tourism development

Tourism could represent a substantial source of revenue for the community forest. As the data shown above, Siem Reap is a popular tourism city so there are many tourism attractions. Tourism is the second largest contributor to the Cambodian economy after the garment industry, generating 13% of Cambodian GDP in 2005, and 16% of Cambodian GDP in 2006 (Chheang, 2008, p. 284). Organizing eco-tourism in the community forestry should draw attention from community since developing eco-tourism can create great economic value for local communities.

Provide training course

FAO associated with government should provide more professional training to the local community and the outsiders through seminars as well as training courses on community forestry implementation and management, participatory concept. So every individual in this community can participate more in managing community forest and improve the efficiency community forest management. Besides, government should also strengthen the capability of the community forestry committee and promote community participation in forest management through holding regular meeting between villagers and community forestry committee to inform them that they have a right to participate in the process to manage their local natural resources (Mekonginfo.org, 2000, p. 9).

Powers decentralisation

As it said above, over the past decade, Cambodia government have passed laws and policies to devolve and decentralise government administrative functions to the district and sub-district level officials who are downwardly accountable to local populations (Poffenberger, M. 2006, p. 61). Decentralisation is a complex way to manage community forest, so it will take a long time to perfect the mechanism in Siem Reap community forest. Based on the problem that community forestry has a negative effect on some households who have no other alternative sources of revenue, such as farm lands, on the on hand, the government should guarantee and find markets for community forestry products and provide loan credits for local farmers at the same time; On the other hand, government should help in agricultural development programs such as provide technical support for improving crops production.

References

1.      Baird, I. G. (2013). ‘Indigenous Peoples’ and land: Comparing communal land titling and its implications in Cambodia and Laos. Asia Pacific Viewpoint54(3), 269-281.

2.      Chheang, V. (2008). The political economy of tourism in Cambodia. Asia Pacific Journal of Tourism Research, 13(3), 281e297.

3.      De Lopez, T. T. (2001). Stakeholder management for conservation projects: a case study of Ream National Park, Cambodia. Environmental Management, 28(1), 47-60.

4.      Gritten, D., Greijmans, M., Lewis, S. R., Sokchea, T., Atkinson, J., Quang, T. N., Paudel, N. S. (2015). An uneven playing field: Regulatory barriers to communities making a living from the timber from their forests-examples from Cambodia, Nepal and Vietnam. Forests, 6(10), 3433-3451. DOI: 10.3390/f6103433.

5.      Kurashima, T., Matsuura, T., Miyamoto, A., Sano, M., & Chann, S. (2015). Considering the practical rationality of experimental operation in developing countries: Reality and challenges under a rigid community forestry system in cambodia. Forests, 6(9), 3087-3108. DOI: 10.3390/f6093087.

6.      Maya Pasgaard & Tania Fredborg Nielsen (2016) A story of “communities”: boundaries, geographical composition and social coherence in a forest conservation project, Northern Cambodia, Geografisk Tidsskrift-Danish Journal of Geography, 116(2), 134-146, DOI: 10.1080/00167223.2016.1182440

7.      Mekonginfo.org. (2000). Siem Reap Province Chan Sar Community Forest.

Retrieved from:

http://www.mekonginfo.org/assets/midocs/0001319-environment-cambodia-cocommuni-forestry-best-practices-study-siem-reap-province-chan-sar-community-forest.pdf.

8.      Poffenberger, M. (2006). People in the forest: community forestry experiences from Southeast Asia. International Journal of Environment and Sustainable Development, 5(1), 57-69.

9.      Reimer, J. K., Walter. P. (2013). How do you know it when you see it? Community-based ecotourism in the Cardamom Mountains of southwestern Cambodia. Tourism Management34, 122-132.

10.  En.wikipedia.org. (2018). Siem Reap. [online] Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Siem_Reap [Accessed 25 Nov. 2018].


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