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Sustainable financing of protected areas in Cambodia: Phnom Aural and Phnom Samkos Wildlife Sanctuaries

In order to increase protected area revenue, and as part of a drive for national economic development, the Cambodian government is starting to issue economic concessions in 'sustainable development zones' of of protected areas. The Phnom Aural and Phnom Samkos wildlife sanctuaries cover nearly 600,000 ha and are important for biodiversity conservation and environmental services. They are home to about 30,000 people who rely on subsistence agriculture, cattle raising, and collection of non-timber forest products for their livelihoods. Under the Cardamom Mountains Wildlife Sanctuaries Project, a joint project of the Cambodian Ministry of Environment and Fauna and Flora International, zoning plans have been developed for both sanctuaries through participatory consultation with local stakeholders. But the sanctuaries face threats from clearance of land by in-migrating settlers and the granting of economic concessions. Management of the wildlife sanctuaries is currently heavily dependent on donor finance and there is concern about post project sustainability. Thus there is a need to develop long-term sustainable finance for their management. Part of this challenge is demonstrating the value to Cambodia of continuing to protect the two sanctuaries. This will help to make the case for greater government support to the management of the sanctuaries whether through financial input or through discouraging/preventing economic activities that undermine the effectiveness of protection.

This paper reports on a study to provide a set of options for the locally-derived sustainable financing of Phnom Samkos and Phnom Aural. The study has two main components: ecological services valuation - assessing the economic value of the direct and indirect ecosystem services provided by the two sanctuaries, and the potential costs/benefits of allowing continuing land conversion and illegal logging; and protected area financing - assessing the costs of maintaining management activities and recommendations for generating funds.

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