The Ministry of Environment in collaboration with the United Nations for Environment Programme (UNEP) launched a new project entitled “Enhancing Climate Resilience of Rural Communities Living in Protected Areas in Cambodia” in its inception workshop held on 21May 2013 at Himawari Hotel in Phnom Penh. The objective of this inception workshop is to inform stakeholders about the launch of the project and to discuss with them best ways for project implementation. The opening ceremony of the workshop will be presided over by H.E. Dr. Mok Mareth, Senior Minister and Minister of Environment, with, participants from relevant Government ministries and agencies, UNEP and development partners, NGOs, academic institutions, the private sector and media. The workshop will be followed by a field visit to the proposed project sites in Kampong Thom and Preah Vihear Provinces.
The objective of the project is to implement ecosystem-based adaptation (EbA) interventions and enhance the climate change resilience of communities living around five CPA intervention sites, as well as downstream communities, to the climate change-induced hazard of erratic rainfall. This hazard is reducing food supplies as a result of an increased frequency of droughts and loss of topsoil during intense rainfall events and flooding. The EbA approach in this project is part of UNEP’s primary strategy for addressing climate change impacts globally. The overall goal of the project is to increase food supply and reduce soil erosion in communities surrounding five Community Protected Areas (CPAs) in Cambodia by restoring degraded forests – taking climate change risks into account – with appropriate plant species; enrichment planting of rice paddy boundaries and other cultivated areas with multi-use tree species that will enhance crop productivity; trialling plots of several drought-tolerant hybrid rice cultivars in order to assess their potential yield and suitability for cultivation; and intensifying and diversifying the productivity of family agriculture areas, including home gardens, in communities living around the CPA forest sites. The increased agricultural productivity from the conservation agriculture interventions will provide communities with food and revenue and reduce the pressure on forests, making the forests and the services they provide more resilient to climate change. The benefits of this landscape management to enhance ecosystem services will extend to downstream communities, beyond the CPA intervention sites.
This 5-million dollar project, which will run in a period of five years, is the first ever adaptation initiative in Cambodia funded by the Adaptation Fund which was established to finance concrete adaptation projects and programmes in developing country Parties to the Kyoto Protocol of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change that are particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change. This initiative will help improve climate resilience of the target local communities through the EbA approach which involves a comprehensive set of concrete and tangible eco-agriculture adaptation interventions to ensure sustainability of food supply and to encourage local community participation in sustainable natural resource management under climate change conditions. It is expected that lessons learned from this project will serve as the basis for scaling up of similar interventions in other CPAs nation-wide.
The establishment of CPAs is a prioritized government policy as stipulated in the Law on Protected Areas in order to encourage local community participation in natural resource management to ensure environment balance and adapt to climate change climate change which is becoming a major threat for Cambodia and the world. In fact MoE has been collaborating with local authorities at all levels in the process to facilitate the organization of CPAs. As a result 120 CPAs have been established nationwide with 216 villages, and with the participation of 28,168 households to manage a total land area of 164,480 ha.