Forestry Administration and WCS Project staff in Seima conduct regular surveys of the local communities that live in and around the Seima Protectoin Forest. The latest study describes the communities as they were in early 2008. In particular we sought to find out information on livelihoods and how many community-based organisations were present in the landscape. The report also reviews information on agri-business and mining exploration concessions, which are likely to be key drivers of demographic change in the future.
The total population in the then Seima Biodiversity Conservation Areas in 2008 was estimated as about 16,600, a density of 5.4 people/km2. These are moderately large populations that create a major challenge for management. These numbers also give an approximate measure of the number of people likely to be benefitting directly from use of the SPF, since almost all families in the SPF farm and collect forest products there, whilst many people in the neighbourhood zone also go into the SPF to collect forest products
A major revision of the boundaries of the SPF was undertaken as part of the new sub-decree that elevated the status of the reserve in August 2009. Under the new boundaries, human populations in the reserve was reduced by excluding nine villages. Overall this will simplify some aspects of management, and in particular will remove the overlap with the provincial capital. The total population of the SPF in 2008 is approximately 12,800 (4.2/km2), including 4700 (3.0/km2) in the new Core Protection Forest, while the population of the 5 km neighbourhood zone is an additional 25,600 (21/km2).
The overall population growth of the study area averaged 5.8% per year over 2003-2008. This growth is far higher than can be achieved through a surplus of births over deaths and indicates high rates of in-migration. The national average growth rate was 1.81% in 2004 and this is probably a useful benchmark for natural rates of growth in modern day Cambodia. 60% of the growth in the study area was in parts of just two communes, Sre Khtum (an extraordinary 43% of all growth) and Khseum. The province as a whole grew at 4.3% per year over this period, showing that migration is not only concentrated in and around the SPF.