The Central Cardamom Protected Forest (CCPF) in Cambodia is a lush landscape that supports both threatened species and local communities.
Despite their rich surroundings, the area’s 5,000 human inhabitants suffer some of the worst socioeconomic conditions in the world. The country’s poor economy, particularly in rural areas, forces many citizens to rely intensively on natural resources to survive. This includes illegal logging, clear-cutting for agriculture and wildlife hunting that in part satisfies a growing wildlife trade.
And the population is growing quickly, has access to only minimal social services and, because of years of civil conflict, is fairly distrustful of outsiders. Now, there is a renewed sense of urgency to protect the CCPF while also providing economic benefits for the CCPF’s local communities.
In 2004, CI began working with CARE Cambodia and other NGOs to explore and implement activities that promoted the relationship between healthy communities and environmental protection.
At the local level, CI has helped foster the adoption of participatory land use planning to determine the best use of local lands for both economic and conservation purposes.
Before CI's Population, Health and Environment project began in 2004, residents had to travel on poor roads to clinics and hospitals located half a day’s drive away.
In June 2007, CI began working with the Association for Buddhists for the Environment to strengthen Buddhist efforts to protect the environment.
CI and partners have implemented a diverse information, education and communication program throughout the Cardamom forest over the past four years.