Our Reforestation Project in Cambodia
The state of Cambodia’s forests is global news. They’re disappearing at an alarming rate. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), which is a United Nations body, estimates that Cambodia loses 0.5% of its forests every year. In 1970, Cambodia was covered to about 70% with primary forest. Today, thanks to deforestation, this is now down to 57%!
The Human Contribution to Deforestation
The Lon Nol era civil war, the Khmer Rouge and the post-Khmer Rouge era have all taken their toll on Cambodia’s forests. There’s a lot of money to be made from exploiting Cambodia’s hard wood forests and exports have been sent to Japan, Vietnam and Thailand to pay for conflict and repression at home.
The present government has put a legal moratorium on selling timber but illegal logging continues. The worst period was between the years 2000 and 2005, when huge swathes of Cambodia’s primary forests were lost.
It’s not just greedy regimes that have damaged Cambodia’s natural resources; agriculture, mining and even firewood for fuel have hurt the natural environment.
There are approximately 10.3 million people who live in Cambodia and the population grows at an annual rate of 3%. The more the population grows – the more demand that there is for agriculture and firewood.
The Natural Costs of Deforestation
Not only are the forests themselves being lost and with them, potentially, many unique trees, shrubs, etc. but the fauna found in these forests is under threat too. There are over 500 species of birds, 120 species of mammals, and 110 species of lizards that make their homes in these forests. Every time that deforestation occurs, their habitats are impinged upon. Some of these species are already endangered and things are only getting worse.
The sad news is that it takes a long time to reverse the effects of deforestation. It is vital to protect the remaining forests in order to buy the time to rehabilitate and reforest the affected areas.
The good news is that we’ve had some big successes already with our reforestation projects in Thailand and this year so Flight of the Gibbon has started a reforestation program in Cambodia at our Angkor Archaeological Park site.
We will begin 2015 by planting 5,000 new trees during the rainy season. This will start in June, when the rains are reliable enough to ensure that they get the water that they need to adapt to the forest there. We will then continue our efforts each and every year following.
The APSARA Authority, the body which controls the interests of the Angkor Temples for the people of Cambodia, has made a request for this year. We are pleased to be able to accommodate that request and will be planting two tree species around the Angkor complex.
The species are the Dipterocarpus Alatus and the Hopea Odorata. These hardwood trees were once common throughout Cambodia but are very much under threat today. Their wood has been too valuable for a poor nation to ignore. Dipeterocarpus Alatus is actually a threatened species in Cambodia and this reforestation effort should help ensure that it continues for generations to come.
Flight of the Gibbon is proud to be helping Cambodia’s forests recover and thanks our guests for your support – which enables us to do so.