Phnom Penh, 11 August 2016 – The Royal Government of Cambodia and the Wildlife Conservation Society signed an official Project Agreement for the Keo Seima REDD+ Project (Reduce Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) today witnessed by H.E. Say Samal, Minister of Environment and U.S. Ambassador William A. Heidt, at the offices of the Ministry of Environment. The signing ceremony was part of the first large carbon sale for Cambodia and will initiate sustainable financing to protect Keo Seima Wildlife Sanctuary (KSWS), formerly known as the Seima Protection Forest. This globally important site is home to more than 60 species of animal and plants that are threatened with extinction. The area is of international importance for the conservation of primates, including the world’s largest known populations of black-shanked douc and southern yellow-cheeked crested gibbons, and is important for many species of wild cats, Asian elephants, Banteng and several bird species. The lush forests of Keo Seima are also a store of millions of tonnes of carbon.
“On July 27, Royal Government of Cambodia through the Ministry of Environment released information about carbon credit sale of Keo Seima Wildlife Sanctuary to an international corporate buyer,” said H.E Say Samal, Environment Minister. “This is the first large carbon sale for Cambodia that will provide sustainable financing of Keo Seima Wildlife Sanctuary. This is a great achievement for forest and wildlife protection and community development in Cambodia, and for sustainable financing of these efforts.” Keo Seima’s REDD+ Project proves that Cambodia is ready for performance based payment for climate change mitigation. It demonstrates a result from the commitment of the Royal Government of Cambodia to protecting forests, conserving biodiversity and improving local livelihoods,” added H.E Say Samal.
“Protecting Cambodia’s forests and helping the country combat climate change are priorities for the U.S. government,” said U.S. Ambassador William A. Heidt. “These are global issues that are significant beyond Cambodia’s borders. A partnership between an iconic American company and Cambodia is a symbol to the world that there are innovative ways to protect the earth and a wide variety of partners who can help. We are proud to have supported this partnership and will continue to help develop strategies that make forests more valuable standing than they would be cut down.”
“The ceremony today represents a significant achievement for sustainable financing of forest conservation in Cambodia,” said Ross Sinclair, WCS’s Director Cambodia Program. “It is also about the strong partnership between WCS, the Royal Government of Cambodia, local communities, and development partners like USAID.”
The project agreement will oversee several activities that will help protect the Keo Seima Wildlife Sanctuary and the communities that live in and around its forests. It will support a full range of conservation and forest management activities including the training of Cambodian government staff in forest and wildlife management. Equally as important, it will help the communities living in and around these forests to improve their livelihoods by using the forest's resources in a sustainable way.
The Keo Seima REDD+ project started in 2010 and is being implemented by the Ministry of Environment (formerly by the Forestry Administration) and WCS in Mondulkiri and Kratie provinces, with financial support from USAID’s Supporting Forests and Biodiversity Project implemented by Winrock International, as well as other donors.