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EditPhoto Title:Cambodia’s Central Cardamom Protected Forest
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EditImage Url:/SiteCollectionImages/ci_14779778.jpg
EditImage Description:Areng River, Cardamom Mountains, Cambodia
EditPhoto Credit:© Conservation International/photo by David Emmett
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Population growth, economic development, the potential for hydropower and mineral deposits have all put new pressures on a crucial Cambodian watershed.

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    EditImage URL:/sitecollectionimages/maps/centralcardamom.png
    EditImage Description:Map of the Central Cardamom region with its context in Southeast Asia
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    This watershed, at the heart of the Cardamom mountain range, is the Central Cardamom Protected Forest (CCPF): a vital, 400,000-hectare (1 million- acre) protected forest, Cambodia’s first protected area and one of Asia’s largest. Rivers in the CCPF provide drinking water for more than 30,000 people and support rice and fish production in the lowland agricultural plains, ensuring food security for many of Cambodia’s poorest people.

    Due to the region’s isolation, the natural resources of the Cardamom Mountains — estimated to be worth well over US$ 1 billion  — were untapped by outsiders for centuries. But as Cambodia has modernized, they have become increasingly vulnerable to illegal logging, hunting, forest clearing and land encroachment.

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    Our role

    After helping to create the CCPF, CI helped the Cambodian government produce a five-year management plan, which created the legal framework needed for effective, long-term conservation of the Veun Sai forest. The plan is the first of its kind to be approved in Cambodia’s history and represents the country’s longest standing conservation project. CI is working to improve the government’s capacity to protect the area, such as providing technical and financial support to the rangers that patrol the CCPF to deter illegal wildlife poaching and logging activities.

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    EditItem Title:Reducing deforestation
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    EditItem Text:A recent independent review found that the CCPF has a lower deforestation rate (2%) than the surrounding forests. But across Cambodia, about 1.6 million hectares (4 million acres) of land — equivalent to more than 3 million football fields — have been cleared over the past two years alone. The pressures of illegal logging and wildlife poaching are constant and increasing, which is why CI is working with communities, partners and government to ensure CCPF's continued protection.
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    EditItem Title:Securing long-term financing
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    EditItem Text:Recognizing that securing this vast protected area requires long-term sustainable financing, CI launched a trust fund in January 2016 to cover core management costs indefinitely. The trust fund is currently funded at one-fourth of its $US 10 million goal.
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    EditItem Title:Conducting research
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    EditItem Text:CI’s research has helped stakeholders better understand and quantify the value of the "natural capital" present in the CCPF — including biodiversity, climate change mitigation properties and fresh water — so the value of its conservation can be better understood and factored into government planning.
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    EditItem Title:Working with communities
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    EditItem Text:Since 2001, CI has provided support to indigenous communities living in and around the CCPF. This work includes community agreements that successfully link livelihood improvements to wildlife protection, ranger training and biological research and monitoring.
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    EditItem Title:Creating a ridge-to-reef conservation area
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    EditItem Text:CI is working to create a ridge-to-reef initiative that encompasses the CCPF watershed and its flows to the coast and to the Tonle Sap Lake so that the broader connected ecosystem is protected.
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    EditImage Alt Text:Indigenous children at a local school
    EditTitle:By the numbers
    EditSubtitle:2,700 people
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    With CI support, the CCPF program engages about 2,700 people directly in conservation agreements, which provide economic benefits to local communities in exchange for wildlife protection and surveillance. There has also been an increase in the number of community members reporting illegal logging and poaching.


    US$ 1 billion

    The annual value of the Cardamom Mountains is estimated to be more than US$ 1 billion in terms of the goods and services they provide, including timber, crops, carbon storage, non- timber forest products (e.g., game animals, nuts, seeds, berries, medicinal plants), water and recreation.


    54 endangered species

    The CCPF is home to 54 species listed on the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List of Threatened Species, including Asian elephants, Siamese crocodiles, sun bears, gibbons and pangolins.

    EditPhoto Credit:© Conservation International/photo by Jake Brunner
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    EditSection Title:Community engagement
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      EditImage URL:/sitecollectionimages/ci_38269331.jpg
      EditImage Description:Mother and daughter at the Thma Bang health post., Cambodia.
      EditText:CI has conservation agreements with communities to protect natural ecosystems and halt destructive activities in return for incentives that support sustainable development. These incentives range from salaries for local teachers to improved farming equipment to health clinics. Financial mechanisms such as endowments and trusts allow for long-term support of these arrangements, and monitoring ensures that both conservation and socioeconomic results are achieved. Communities have reduced slash-and-burn agriculture, increased community participation in tree planting and agroforestry activities, and reported more illegal activities to government rangers.
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      EditPhoto Credit:© Conservation International/photo by Linda Yun
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      EditSection Title:Forest management
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        EditImage URL:/sitecollectionimages/ci_15899184.jpg
        EditImage Description:Central Cardamom Protected Forest, (CCPF), Cambodia
        EditText:We are dedicated to building a trust fund for the CCPF. Toward this goal, we have implemented a comprehensive management plan, hired a dedicated forest manager and continue to work closely with Cambodian Government Forestry Administration rangers and communities to implement this work. The CCPF project’s focus on conservation law enforcement and community engagement has cultivated an acceptance within the communities of the value of conserving and protecting forests.
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        EditVideo Description:Cambodia’s Central Cardamom Protected Forest is essential to the lives and livelihoods of millions of Cambodians. Launched in 2002, the protected forest was the first joint conservation effort between an NGO – Conservation International – and the government of Cambodia of its kind. Now these partners have announced a new conservation Trust Fund, which will bring an innovative and effective model for long-term conservation of this vital forest.[Optional]
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          More of Our Work Links

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          First Image

          EditTitle:Partnering with Communities
          EditImage:/SiteCollectionImages/ci_20109105.jpg
          EditLink:/how/pages/partnering-with-communities.aspx
          EditImage Alt Text:Women sell traditional crafts, Konashen Community-Owned Conservation Area in the Konashen Indigenous District, Southern Guyana. © Piotr Naskrecki

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          EditTitle:Forests
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          EditLink:/what/Pages/forests.aspx
          EditImage Alt Text:Clouds rise through Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, home to the endangered mountain gorilla. © Benjamin Drummond

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          EditTitle:Greater Mekong Region
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          EditLink:/where/Pages/Greater-Mekong-region.aspx
          EditImage Alt Text:Woman rows to a floating market in the Mekong region. © Amir Jina