The Southern Cardamom REDD+ Project
The 445,339 ha project is located in Cambodia’s southwestern highlands, protects a critical part of the Cardamom Mountains Rainforest Ecoregion and covers part of the Indo-Burma Hotspot, one of the world’s 34 biodiversity hotspots.
Despite its global importance, uncontrolled small-scale land conversion of forest to agricultural land by migrants and private sector conversion to agro-industrial plantations have it one of SE Asia’s most threatened forest landscapes.
Rural communities depend on small-scale agricultural production. A lack of employment opportunities for the growing rural population combined with a lack of knowledge regarding improved agricultural techniques drive the local population to clear forests for cultivating commercial crops.
The project directly supports the livelihoods of 21 villages in nine communes around the perimeter of the project area. Eight additional villages in 4 communes are eligible to receive educational scholarship. These communities represent approximately 3,957 families and 16,495 individuals.
Project With Benefits
Sustainability co-benefits, beyond the carbon, associated with the project include:
Direct employment, alternative income generating activities and initiatives to stimulate investment in businesses are designed to reduce pressure on the environment while significantly increasing community well-being.
Additional programs address food security, improve health and education facilities and help raise environmental awareness.
The project’s security and law enforcement program is fully implemented and providing significant biodiversity benefits. It supports a team of 98 rangers and a 25-person community anti-poaching unit that patrol the Project area working to stop illegal activity.
Other project activities include training on improved agricultural methods, support for ecotourism and participatory land use planning. These activities are aimed at reducing the primary deforestation drivers.
The Project protects critical habitat for 17 endangered and critically endangered species, including the Asian elephant, Asiatic black bear, sun bear, pileated gibbon, large spotted civet, clouded leopard, dhole, hairy-nosed otter, Siamese crocodile and southern river terrapin.
The landscape has also been identified by the Royal Government of Cambodia as an opportunity for tiger reintroduction. By protecting the forests, the native habitat of these species will be protected from fragmentation and destruction, as well other threats such as poaching, human-wildlife conflict and drought.