- A forest gave Cambodia’s captive elephants a new life. Now they’re paying it back, news.mongabay.com (Aug 31, 2023)
Cambodia ( ; Khmer: កម្ពុជា; UNGEGN: Kâmpŭchéa), officially the Kingdom of Cambodia (Khmer: ព្រះរាជាណាចក្រកម្ពុជា; UNGEGN: Preăh Réachéanachâkr Kâmpŭchéa), is a country in Mainland Southeast Asia, spanning an area of 181,035 square kilometres (69,898 square miles), bordered by Thailand to the northwest, Laos to the north, Vietnam to the east, and the Gulf of Thailand to the southwest. The capital and most populous city is Phnom Penh.
In 802 AD, Jayavarman II declared himself king, uniting the warring Khmer princes of Chenla under the name "Kambuja". This marked the beginning of the Khmer Empire. The Indianised kingdom facilitated the spread of first Hinduism and then Buddhism to Southeast Asia and undertook religious infrastructural projects throughout the region. In the fifteenth century, Cambodia experienced a decline of power, and in 1863, it became a protectorate of France. After a period of Japanese occupation during the Second World War, Cambodia gained independence in 1953. The Vietnam War extended into the country in 1965 via the Ho Chi Minh and Sihanouk trails. A 1970 coup installed the US-aligned Khmer Republic, which was overthrown by the Khmer Rouge in 1975. The Khmer Rouge ruled the country and carried out the Cambodian genocide from 1975 until 1979, when they were ousted in the Cambodian–Vietnamese War. The Vietnamese-occupied People's Republic of Kampuchea became the de facto government. Following the 1991 Paris Peace Accords which formally ended the war with Vietnam, Cambodia was governed by a United Nations mission (1992–93). The UN withdrew after holding elections in which around 90% of the registered voters cast ballots. The 1997 coup d'état consolidated power under Prime Minister Hun Sen and the Cambodian People's Party (CPP). While constitutionally a multi-party state, CPP dominates the political system and dissolved its main opposition party in 2017, making Cambodia a de facto one-party state.
Climate action[edit | edit source]
The Cambodian government pledges to reduce emissions by 41.7% in 2030.
Cambodia is highly vulnerable to the effects of climate change. Extreme weather events will occur more frequently; this includes floods, which already affect 90,000 residents annually, and heatwaves, with Cambodia already having one of the highest temperatures of the world. The temperature has increased since the 1960s by 0.18 °C per decade. It had the 7th lowest CO2 emissions in Asia in 2019.
Climate change is leading to increased drought in Cambodia, which is having major impacts on the Tonlé Sap and Mekong deltas. These water systems are highly important for water, agriculture and fishing in the country. Cambodia's population is impacted by increasing floods, tropical cyclones and waterborne diseases, and is highly vulnerable due to its high rate of poverty.
Biodiversity[edit | edit source]
- Elephant Valley Project, Elephant Sanctuary, Mondulkiri
Trees, woodland and forest[edit | edit source]
Community forestry[edit | edit source]
The concept of community forestry started in India in the 1970s. It acknowledges that local communities in forest regions have knowledge and skills to use forests in a sustainable manner. Their knowledge is rooted in the ecological, cultural, and social characteristics of the community. In community forests, local residents are given certain rights and become the main actors of forest management. The goal of community forests is not to make profits or directly support the current residents by itself, but rather to promote sustainable and effective use of environmental resources and their fair distribution for the present and future generations.
Community forests, established in 1994 in Cambodia, aims to ensure locals rights to forest resources. This program allows for locals to directly participate in the protection, conservation, and development of forest resources. Some challenges that have arisen are conflicting interests with how to manage forests within communities, the government's reluctance to transfer resource management power to communities, powerful special interests overshadowing local interests, the costs of management, and lack of needed assistance.
Some researchers argue that the community forestry framework requires industrial forestry reform as well as redefined policies for rural development. Despite its shortcomings, this program has grown very popular among those who live in rural areas. As of 2016, 610 communities participate in community forestry, covering 5,066 square kilometers in 21 provinces. Community forests only cover 2.8 percent of Cambodia's land area which is extremely small compared to the concessions given to commercial forestry.
Community Protected Areas[edit | edit source]
The first protected area was established in 1998 under the reign of King Sihanouk. However, the law on protected areas was adopted in 2008 to govern biodiversity and ensure the sustainability of natural resource within the protected areas. This law recognized the rights of indigenous communities and the general public to participate in decision making on managing and conserving biodiversity in a sustainable approach. Community protected areas (CPA) is a mechanism to engage the local community including indigenous people, who are the primary natural resource users, in planning, monitoring and decision making on protected area management. As of 2018, the number of community protected areas has increased to 153 communities within 51 protected areas.
The communities are the ecological safeguards and they cooperate with the Ministry of Environment to patrol the forest and protect against environmental crimes such as illegal logging and poaching. The communities receive income from collecting non-timber products and funding support from government and development partners. Since 2017, more than 32 million USD are provided by international development partners to support nature conservation and protection of protected areas.
Wetlands[edit | edit source]
Community based conservation[edit | edit source]
Securing Cambodia's Wetlands in the Lower Mekong, wwt.org.uk (Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust), added 12:20, 21 February 2022 (UTC)
Mekong[edit | edit source]
The Mekong or Mekong River is a trans-boundary river in East Asia and Southeast Asia. It is the world's twelfth-longest river and the third-longest in Asia with an estimated length of 4,909 km (3,050 mi) and a drainage area of 795,000 km2 (307,000 sq mi), discharging 475 km3 (114 cu mi) of water annually.From its headwaters in the Tibetan Plateau, the river runs through Southwest China (where it is officially called the Lancang River), Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia, and southern Vietnam. The extreme seasonal variations in flow and the presence of rapids and waterfalls in the Mekong make navigation difficult. Even so, the river is a major trade route between Tibet and Southeast Asia. The construction of hydroelectric dams along the Mekong in the 2000s through the 2020s causes serious problems for the river's ecosystem, including the exacerbation of drought.
Drought linked to a changing climate and dozens of hydroelectric dams are damaging the Mekong ecosystem. When drought ends and the inevitable floods begin, the effects of Mekong dams on flood pulse dynamics over the entire Lower Mekong are poorly understood.
Sewage treatment is rudimentary in towns and urban areas throughout much of the Mekong's length, such as Vientiane in Laos. Water pollution impacts the river's ecological integrity as a result.
Much of the 8.3 billion tonnes of plastic present on earth makes its way to the oceans. Ninety percent of plastic in the oceans is flushed there by just 10 rivers. The Mekong is one of them.
A growing number of academics, NGOs, and scientists have urged the international community and the Mekong River Commission to reduce the use of hydropower, giving concerns of long-term sustainability. Some of them have urged an immediate moratorium on new construction of hydropower projects and a shift to solar and other forms of renewable energy, which are becoming more competitive and faster to install.
Indochina mangroves[edit | edit source]
The Indochina mangroves are a large mangrove ecoregion on the coasts of Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam and Malaysia in Southeast Asia.
Mangroves everywhere are vulnerable to clearance for logging and for agricultural development, and in this region have been particularly affected by the Vietnam War damage, particularly America's chemical weapon of defoliants, the Rainbow Herbicides, most notably Agent Orange which destroyed and devastated entire mangrove forests. In Vietnam there has been a post-war program of replanting to try and revive mangrove habitats.
Community energy[edit | edit source]
Cambodia has high potential for developing renewable energy resources. Even though the country has not attracted much international investment in renewable energy by 2020, the country serves as a model to learn from for other ASEAN countries in terms of conducting solar power auctions. To attract more investment in renewable energy, the government could improve renewable energy governance, adopt clear targets, develop an effective regulatory framework, improve project bankability and facilitate market entry for international investors. Cambodia is highly vulnerable to the negative effects of climate change and it is advised that the country focuses more on developing renewable energy as part of climate change mitigation measures.
Health[edit | edit source]
Awareness Cambodia (Wikipedia) Sunshine House is a project of Awareness Cambodia. In 2000, land was purchased in Kampong Speu, and the first buildings were erected to make a home for children orphaned due to the ravages of AIDS. In June 2002 a fully functional Eco Farm was developed adjacent to Sunshine House. All facets of the farm are aimed at being environmentally friendly, recyclable and self-sustaining. In time it is also planned as an income source for Sunshine House. Over the next 5 years Awareness Cambodia is looking to transform Sunshine House from its current "small village" status into a larger community called "The Awareness Cambodia Community". Awareness Cambodia has also stated that priority will be given to expanding their environmentally friendly approach in all existing projects through initiatives such as solar power, methane collection, and sustainable water use.
Sustainable transport[edit | edit source]
Motorcycles are by far the most common transport medium in Cambodia. "Cyclo" (as hand-me-down French) or cycle rickshaws were popular in the 1990s but are increasingly replaced by remorques (carriages attached to motorcycles) and rickshaws imported from India. Cyclos are unique to Cambodia in that the cyclist sits behind the passenger(s) seat, as opposed to cycle rickshaws in neighbouring countries where the cyclist is at the front and pulls the carriage. With 78% mobile phone penetration rate, ride-hailing apps have become popular in recent years. The first locally owned ride-hailing app, ExNet taxi app, was launched in 2016, after which another locally developed PassApp taxi was also introduced.
The ExNet and PassApp use the same technology and architect for their application, except that ExNet is a taxi-based ride-hailing service while PassApp is more of rickshaw-based one. Uber and Grab joined the market in 2017. The entry and later merger of Uber and Grab did not negatively affect the local apps as the locals have the first-mover advantage and could secure a large number of patrons. As of today, PassApp is seen as an able competitor for the Singapore-based Grab in the Cambodian transport market. Thai Duong Bus Cambodia
Aside from the private-hire vehicles and ride-hailing service, public transport is also available but only in the capital. Phnom Penh city bus service started in 2015 with only three routes under the assistance of JICA. Today, Phnom Penh City Bus operates 13 routes.
Waterways[edit | edit source]
The nation's extensive inland waterways were important historically in domestic trade. The Mekong and the Tonlé Sap Rivers, their numerous tributaries, and the Tonlé Sap provided avenues of considerable length, including 3,700 kilometers navigable all year by craft drawing 0.6 meters and another 282 kilometers navigable to craft drawing 1.8 meters. In some areas, especially west of the Mekong River and north of the Tonle Sap River, the villages were completely dependent on waterways for communications. Launches, junks, or barges transport passengers, rice, and other food in the absence of roads and railways.
According to the Ministry of Communications, Transport, and Post, Cambodia's main ferry services crossing the Bassac River and the middle Mekong River were restored in 1985. The major Mekong River navigation routes also were cleared for traffic. Seaplane service to all waterways and islands in now offered by Aero Cambodia Airline.
Resources[edit | edit source]
Networks and sustainability initiatives[edit | edit source]
Citizens data initiative[edit | edit source]
Open Development Cambodia (ODC) is an 'open data' website, the first of its kind in Southeast Asia. The open data movement is based on the simple premise that data collected for public interest should be publicly available without restrictions. Information or data in the public domain should be freely available to everyone to use and republish as they wish. Open Development Cambodia does not promote any particular perspective, agenda or bias other than to provide objective information about Cambodia and its development.
Maps[edit | edit source]
Maps catalogue, Open Development Cambodia
News and comment[edit | edit source]
Cambodia: Pushing for a more organic future, February 18. Bloggers at CAAI News Media and Khmer Stars feature a Phnom Penh Post article on the slow food movement that ran on February 10. The article discusses Slow Food's philosophy of creating food in a good, clean and fair manner and how that philosophy is applied in Cambodia.