Country Profiles

Cambodia - Country Profile

Biodiversity Facts

Status and trends of biodiversity, including benefits from biodiversity and ecosystem services

The content of this biodiversity profile is still draft. The text below has been prepared by SCBD and remains subject to final approval by the Party concerned.

The number of plant species in the country is estimated to exceed 3,000, with estimates provided by WCMC extending up to 8,260 plant species, 10% of which may be endemic. 28 species of amphibians and reptiles are described; a total of 874 fish species are recorded; and over 500 birds have been recorded. The IUCN Red List identifies as endangered 39 mammal species, 36 bird species, 38 vascular plant species, 13 reptiles and 12 amphibians. 435 fish species were found in 1983 in the waters within Cambodia’s Exclusive Economic Zone. Coral reefs are reported from around almost all the islands off the coast of Cambodia. Around 70 coral species have been identified. The current extent of sea-grass in Cambodia’s coastal waters is 32,494 ha, and 10 sea-grass species and 30 species of mangroves have been identified.

Cambodia’s forests have decreased significantly in terms of both area and quality over the last few decades. The 2005 FAO Forest Resource Assessment indicates that Cambodia has lost more than a quarter of its remaining primary forests since 2000. The trend in forest losses accelerated during the period from 1997 to 2002 (at an annual rate of around 1%) and losses were even higher between 2002 and 2005 (at an annual rate of around 2%). The species composition of freshwater ecosystems is changing and the abundance of larger slower growing species is declining due to a high rate of exploitation.

Mangrove coverage decreased quickly, from 76,518 ha in 1993 to 71,683 ha in 1997, with no indication that this reduction has been stopped. In view of this trend, mangrove coverage may be reduced further to 60% of the coverage in 1993 by 2015.

Forests support a large industry, while supplying domestic demands. They also provide essential environmental benefits impacting the outcome of other sectors, particularly the agricultural sector. The importance of the forests’ environmental service for regulating climates, local water circulation, reducing floods and the effects of droughts, is enhanced by Cambodia’s low elevation and, in many areas, infertile soils. Forests sequester atmospheric carbon and provide for the conservation of biological diversity for present and future use. Timber and non-timber forest products are also essential, particularly for the indigenous people living in remote forest areas. With approximately 33% of the population living within 5 km of a forest, a high absolute value of forest resources to the well-being of many people is indicated.

Overall, about 88% of inhabitants rely on natural fishing and fish related activities for their livelihood and income generation. 10.5% of households count fishing or fishing related activities as their primary occupation while another 34.1% are engaged on a part-time basis. Thus, over one million people are either fully or partly dependent on fisheries resource harvesting and related activities for their income.

Main pressures on and drivers of change to biodiversity (direct and indirect)

The content of this biodiversity profile is still draft. The text below has been prepared by SCBD and remains subject to final approval by the Party concerned.

The main causes of forest degradation include commercial logging, slash and burn cultivation, land encroachment, farming and infrastructure development and cutting wood for fuel. Destructive fishing practices such as the use of explosives and poison, construction of dams in upper streams and invasive alien species are direct threats to freshwater fish species and reptiles. One important cause for endangering fish species is the construction of irrigation projects and hydropower projects. Land conversion from aquatic habitats to agricultural land is another reason. Direct threats to marine ecosystems include unsustainable fishing practices and the discharge of pollutants from various sources. Indirect ones include tourism and development activities on islands and in coastal areas, as well as hydropower development projects upstream. The increasing use of agricultural chemicals poses direct threats to the agricultural ecosystem. Genetic erosion is occurring due to the fact that people are unable to preserve the old varieties that they used to possess.

Measures to Enhance Implementation of the Convention

Implementation of the NBSAP

The content of this biodiversity profile is still draft. The text below has been prepared by SCBD and remains subject to final approval by the Party concerned.

Cambodia prepared its NBSAP in 2002. In April 2011, the Minister endorsed the updating of the NBSAP, within the biodiversity programme framework, as a matter of priority. National targets will also be established. Notable achievements in implementation relate to protected areas management that has been strengthened through law enforcement strengthening. Further, 5 zoos and 5 wildlife farms have been established for research and the captive breeding of wild animals. Aquaculture has also increased to reduce the use of wildlife resources. Logging has been reduced and the number of plantations has increased. Additional efforts have been taken to crack down on forest-related crimes, while programmes have been developed to conserve forest genetic diversity and tree species. Measures for coastal zone management and the conservation of marine biodiversity, particularly in regard to mangroves, coral reefs, sea-grass, have also been strengthened.

Actions taken to achieve the 2020 Aichi Biodiversity Targets

The content of this biodiversity profile is still draft. The text below has been prepared by SCBD and remains subject to final approval by the Party concerned.

Some national targets related to biodiversity were set in Cambodia’s Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The coverage of protected areas accounts for 26.1% of the total land area.

The number of forest crimes dropped from 1,152 to 899 in 2005 and 2006, fishery offences by 155 cases in 2007 and illegal marine fishing practices by 75%. At present, protected areas, protected forest areas and wetlands in Cambodia, together with other natural resources, are managed based on sustainable management practices.

The development of community-based management and practices for the sustainable use of biological resources have been explored and achieved positive results for biodiversity conservation and environmental protection, while creating more employment and supporting the incomes of local communities. In 2007, 46 Community Protected Areas (CPAs) were officially registered, practiced and managed, in a sustainable use manner, by local communities living adjacent to Cambodia’s 23 designated protected areas. Various approaches are being used, namely ecotourism- and community-based management and conservation, as well as aro-forestry practices. 468 Community Fisheries (CFi) are registered and recognized, of which 434 are inland and 35 are in coastal areas. 49% of these are designated as fish refuges. This involves 129,490 households.

Support mechanisms for national implementation (legislation, funding, capacity-building, coordination, mainstreaming, etc.)

The content of this biodiversity profile is still draft. The text below has been prepared by SCBD and remains subject to final approval by the Party concerned.

A number of laws have been adopted in recent years, such as the Protected Areas Law, Biosafety Law, Water Resources Management Law and Law on Crop Seed Management and Rights of Plant Breeders. The Government Rectangular Strategy (2009-2013), the Cambodian MDGs, the National Strategic Development Plan (2006-2010), the National Environmental Action Plan (under revision) and the NBSAP provide policy frameworks for implementation of the CBD by various sectoral departments and agencies as well as by various stakeholders.

A coordination mechanism for government and donors was developed to increase aid effectiveness. A total of 19 Government-Donor Technical Working Groups was set up for key sectors and thematic areas to provide a link between high-level policy dialogue and implementation on the ground.

The ongoing reform in the forestry sector provides for regimes of protection by requiring concession management plans to become vehicles for biodiversity conservation and establishment of special protection zones, and giving more emphasis to the values of ecosystem services provided by forests.

A new Fisheries Law, adopted in 2006, requires fisheries management based on the Ecosystem Approach, with particular emphasis given to the conservation of fish habitats.

The Agriculture Strategic Development Plan (2006-2010) promotes diversified farming systems, agro-forestry and the protection of critical watersheds. The centralized management of water resources, through the creation of the Ministry of Water Resources and Meteorology and the adoption of a Law on Water Resources Management, supports the conservation and sustainable use of water resources.

Mechanisms for monitoring and reviewing implementation

The content of this biodiversity profile is still draft. The text below has been prepared by SCBD and remains subject to final approval by the Party concerned.

The Interministerial Biodiversity Steering Committee and the National Secretariat for Biodiversity have been established to coordinate the implementation of the NBSAP, including monitoring, reviewing and reporting as well as providing recommendations for NBSAP revision. Some indicators have been identified to monitor and assess the implementation of the NBSAP.