On August 7th 2009 the Royal Government of Cambodia's highest legislative body, the Council of Ministers declared the creation of the Seima Protection Forest (SPF). At 2,926 km2 this is the largest new protected area created in Cambodia since 2002. This development marks the culmination of over three years of lobbying on the part of SPF managers to secure additional legal support for the SPF as the draft sub-decree was reviewed and approved by a range of Cambodian government agencies, including the Forestry Administration, the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) and finally the Council of Ministers itself.
As a result of the new sub-decree, the status of the site has been changed from Production Forest to Protection Forest, and some idiosyncrasies in the boundaries of the SPF have been corrected. The new Core Protection Forest covers all key wildlife habitat that was covered by the previous SBCA Core Area, whilst also expanding westward to incorporate an area reported to have part the last remaining Eld's Deer population in the site. The SPF will include a Buffer Protection Forest where local communities will be authorized to engage in the sustainable exploitation of their natural resources, although the details governing issues such as zonation will not be confirmed until the preparation of the SPF management plan.
The SPF is the first protected area in Cambodia that explicitly states the protection of bio-carbon as one of its key roles. WCS is now working with the Forestry Administration to develop a model for the reduction of green house gas emissions through the Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD) mechanism. Since February WCS and FA have been carrying out extensive surveys to measure the carbon stocks held by the SPF to help measure the potential value of the area. It is possible that income from payments for this and other environmental services could provide significant funds to help support conservation and rural poverty alleviation programs in and around the SPF.