Preah Vihear, Cambodia - Kantout, Ah Plounh Phnom Dei, Prey Chheu Plerng, Sroung Ah Plounh, and Prey Kda are rural villages situated in the Kulen Promtep Wildlife Sanctuary, Preah Vihear province. Local communities are amongst the poorest in Cambodia, and are dependent upon the forest and land resources for their livelihoods. Farmers primarily rely on subsistence rice farming, and Non-timber Forest Product (NTFP) collection creating direct competition with wildlife for the use of the surrounding habitat. Recently established Social Land Concessions that share borders with these communities provide a new threat to local natural resources and livelihoods through Illegal logging, wildlife poaching and land clearance. As a result, some of them have lost resin trees which they had relied on for years as a source of income.
Communities approached the Department of Environment and Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) to help solve these issues through existing provisions within the Protected Area Law (2008) to establish Community Protected Areas. They would like to see their forest areas recognised and received right to sustainably use and manage those forest resources to benefit this and generations to come.
With financial support from Darwin Initiative, Margaret A. Cargill Philanthropies and the European Union, WCS and Department of Environment (DoE) went to meet and consult with those village representatives to address their issues and seek possible solutions. WCS and DoE assisted them to prepare a series of documents to be summited to Ministry of Environment (MoE) requesting their forest areas to be Community Protected Area. In addition, WCS and DoE helped educate them about importance of forests and wildlife, forest resources management, forest patrolling, and collaboration with authorities to report and crack down forests and wildlife crimes inside their Community Protected Areas.
Recognising the important role of those forest resources for wildlife protection and local livelihoods, MoE issued five PRAKAS on 09th December 2016 establishing those five forest areas as Community Protected Areas (CPAs)(total of more than 8,400 ha). CPA committees and village authorities are now responsible for the management of these areas with which will be implemented through the development of a CPA management plan unique to each of the five new CPAs.