The Community-based Production Forestry (CPF) pilot project seeks to demonstrate that a community-based enterprise is a realistic model for future forest management in Cambodia. Its aim is to provide timber for the market, satisfy government stakeholders, and address community concerns at the same time. The CPF model addresses the crucial social issues of the emerging community forestry sector (such as decentralized/local decision-making, customary use and local tenure), yet also takes into account the commercial aspects required to conduct a responsible business including sufficient attention to scale and volume, market preferences, and the conditions which enable investment in technology, management planning and equipment.
This model takes its primary direction from forest enterprise models around the world, particularly those of Mexico where over 80% of the country's 63 million ha forest estate are managed through government supported Community Forest Enterprises (CFE). As seen in the agricultural sector, small and medium scale enterprise represents one of the most effective ways to trigger broad-based job creation and rural development. The CPF model was designed with the underlying belief that Cambodia is best served by developing medium-sized forestry businesses that are able to operate legally, with social and ecological integrity, and meet the standards required by responsible buyers in the international or domestic markets.
Outputs of the pilot project are strategic for Cambodia's forest sector reform process. Information and feedback generated by the project will enable the Forest Administration to:
- Develop experience of how new arrangements for legal forest based businesses, benefit sharing and decentralized decision-making can reduce social conflict, improve governance, and encourage sound long-term management of highly contentious and sought after forest resources.
- Explore mechanisms which can support the government goals of poverty reduction, enterprise development and employment by linking forest management and community livelihoods to responsible forest management in a reinforcing manner. This can inform policy directions.
- Identify the silviculture and product/species mix which Cambodia's forests can sustain.
- Participate in the trade (primarily domestic but possibly international) of timber products with the highest of social, environmental and ecological production standards.
- Determine the actual costs and benefits associated with low impact, environmentally and socially responsible commercial forest management in the context of Cambodia. Such information is vital for establishing an appropriate and commercially viable royalty rate on timber products (a key to sector reform and national planning)
- Establish realistic harvesting standards (e.g. examples of low impact practices on the ground) and silvicultural systems to restore natural forest values through attention to regeneration and planting of native species.