There is good news for Cambodian wildlife threatened by deforestation. The Royal Government of Cambodia and the Wildlife Conservation Society recently signed an important agreement in Phnom Penh to implement the historic carbon transfer agreement announced in July in New York.
The U.S. Ambassador to Cambodia, William Heidt, spoke at the ceremony, attended by Say Samal, Cambodia’s Minister of Environment, Dr. Sam Ang Chea, Secretary of State at the Ministry of Environment, and Ross Sinclair, of the Wildlife Conservation Society.
“This project will address deforestation pressures on the Keo Seima Wildlife Sanctuary by strengthening the management of the reserve, securing land titles for communities in the area, ensuring sustainable access to crucial forest resources, and implementing community development projects. Keo Seima, of course, encompasses nearly 300,000 hectares in Mondulkiri Province and is one of Cambodia’s most important remaining forests,” said Ambasador Heidt.
Cambodia’s forests, he noted, are “globally important for biodiversity conservation. Keo Seima alone is home to more than 60 species of animals and plants listed as threatened by extinction. Hundreds of communities in and around Keo Seima have been nourished by its nutrients and sheltered by its canopies.”
But those forests, he warned, are under very serious threat.
“The United States has been working closely with the Government for many years to combat deforestation in Prey Lang, Keo Seima, the Cardamom Mountains and other areas,” he said.
“In Keo Seima, USAID has provided financial and technical support for the past four years to conserve Keo Seima’s biodiversity, improve the livelihoods of local communities, and help to prepare the transfer of carbon credits into the international carbon market,” said Ambassador Heidt. “These important activities will continue as part of the REDD+ project.”
Partnerships with organizations like Wildlife Conservation Society are a very important way of leveraging international support and expertise to help meet the Government’s goals. They recognize that not only does Cambodia value its natural resources, but that the international community is also committed to helping.
Ambassador Heidt said the agreement “can play an important supporting role in the Government’s efforts, and lay the groundwork for additional REDD+ agreements in the future that will benefit both Cambodia’s forests and the communities that live in and around them.”