In eastern Cambodia WCS is working with multiple partners in the Seima Forest to conserve a critically important community of endangered species and the forest landscape they inhabit. This is being achieved through an ambitious program of protected area management that focuses on safeguarding and improving our understanding of key species, building the capacity of local communities to engage in the conservation of natural resources, and developing sustainable sources of finance to fund conservation and improve the livelihoods of local people. The work is centered on the Seima Protection Forest (SPF).
The SPF is situated in the foothills of the Annamite mountains The SPF boasts more than 60 species that are Globally Threatened, Near-threatened or Data Deficient by IUCN criteria. The area is home to 25 different species of carnivore, including Tiger and seven other species of wild cat. The SPF is of international importance for the conservation of primates, Asian elephants, wild cattle and several species of birds. The Seima forest is also home to several communities that have depended on the forest economically, culturally, and spiritually for many generations.
Accelerating levels of economic development bring increased challenges for conservation across the region. Increased access provided by new roads and a lack of land and resource tenure has resulted in an uncontrolled influx of non-locals opportunistically cutting, clearing and claiming land. Large-scale clearance of forest for the creation of plantation crops such as rubber is also occurring widely in Cambodia.
Government agencies and WCS are working in close partnership to mitigate these threats. Law enforcement teams prevent illegal activities such as land clearance, and this effort is supplemented by a participatory land-use planning process that helps to protect the rights of local people through securing traditional land tenure rights. The long-term impact of these activities on wildlife populations is monitored through a ecological monitoring program.