Recognising Customary Tenure in Protected Areas – Cambodia

The Mekong Region Land Governance (MRLG) Project with partner organizations in Cambodia is developing a methodology to document the customary tenure and map the forest resources of the local communities in Protected Areas (PA).

A group from the project team visited the pilot sites in December 2019 to develop a deeper connection with project beneficiaries and more grounded understanding of the project implementation. The team met with communities and the local teams of the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), the Community Empowerment and Development Team (CEDT) and the provincial authorities. 

In Preah Vihear Province, WCS is starting the documentation of the customary practices of local communities in view of informing the zonation of the Chhep Wildlife Sanctuary (CWS). The zonation will define what areas the local communities can access and what activities are allowed or prohibited. The representatives from the Community Protected Area (CPA) shared their views about why it is important for them to agree on the zonation and also to participate in the protection of the whole Sanctuary. 

In Kampong Thom Province, CEDT is advocating with the local communities for the establishment of collaborative management (CM) in the management of Phnom Chi within the Prey Lang Protected Area (PA). They explained to the team the benefits they expect to generate through the development of ecotourism in the area.

At an institutional level, the Ministry of Environment is taking steps to strengthen the collaboration with local communities for the management of Protected Areas by establishing a federation or network of the Community Protected Areas Committees at provincial and regional levels. WCS is helping the committees to understand their future role, be ready to represent their communities and advocate to address more effectively the problems they face to protect and use the forest resources, in particular how to reduce illegal encroachment, logging or hunting activities. 

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