Cambodia, a tropical country found on the peninsula of mainland Southeast Asia adjacent to the gulf of Thailand with a land area of 181,035km2. Cambodia has a coastline of 435km, and its land border of 2,438km runs along Thailand to the west, Viet Nam to the east and Laos PDR to the north. Biogeographically, Cambodia is dominated by the lowlands along the Mekong River and Tonle Sap (Great Lake), which are the sites of most of the population and agriculture and three mountainous regions in the Southwest, North and Northeast, which are less populated and rich in forest resources.
This geography helps to form an unusual phenomenon whereby in the Rainy season the Mekong River backs up and actually flows into the Tonle Sap causing the lake to swell up to 4 times its size. The Tonle Sap Lake provided a wealth of biological resources. Specifically, the seasonal flooding of the Tonle Sap, supplies suitable conditions for rice and fish, which were and still are the staple foods in Cambodia. This is probably why the ancient Khmer empire of Angkor was located near its shores. Depictions of plants and animals, throughout Angkor Wat, give an indication of the biodiversity of the area and its cultural importance through utilization. The Tonle Sap ecosystem was, and is still considered by many to be the heart of the country.
The full extent of Cambodia’s biodiversity is not yet known; however Cambodia is thought to have a rich diversity of species and is considered a biodiversity ‘hot spot’ (an area very rich in biodiversity) given its tropical location. Compared with neighbouring countries, Cambodia has a low population density and relatively large intact natural areas that are still intact.
Implementing the Convention on Biological Diversity
Biodiversity supports human societies ecologically, economically, culturally and spiritually. Despite its importance, however, ecosystems are being degraded and species and genetic diversity reduced at an alarming rate due to the impact of our growing human population and increasing resource consumption rates. The global decline of biodiversity is now recognized as one of the most serious environmental issues facing humanity.
Recognition of the worldwide impact of the decline of biodiversity inspired the global community to negotiate the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity. The Cambodian delegation participated actively in these negotiations. The Kingdom of Cambodia ratified the Convention in 1995.
The three objectives of the Biodiversity Convention are:
- the conservation of biodiversity;
- the sustainable use of biological resources; and
- the fair and equitable sharing of benefits resulting from the use of genetic resources.
These objectives echo the three poles of sustainable development (ecological integrity, economic sustainability and social equity) and illustrate the nature and breadth of the Convention. As a global instrument, it sets the stage for each nation to assess the adequacy of current efforts to conserve biodiversity and sustainably use biological resources and to determine how gaps will be filled and opportunities realized.
One of the key obligations for parties that have ratified the Convention is to prepare a national strategy. The National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan is a response to this obligation and has been developed as a guide to the implementation of the Biodiversity Convention in Cambodia. All of the strategic directions contained in the Strategy are relevant from a national perspective, but some elements of the Strategy may not be relevant in some areas of the country of for some sectoral agencies.
The National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan recognizes existing constitutional and legislative responsibilities for biodiversity in Cambodia. It also emphasizes the importance of intergovernmental co-operation to create the policy, management and research conditions necessary to advance sustainable management of natural resources. National and regional governments and sectoral ministries and departments, in cooperation with stakeholders and members of community, will pursue implementation of the directions contained in the Strategy according to their policies, plans, priorities and fiscal capabilities.
Equitable economic prosperity and improved quality of life through sustainable use, protection and management of biological resources.
To use, protect and manage biodiversity for sustainable development in Cambodia
3. Main strategic goals
- Maintaining biological diversity and productivity of ecological systems by protecting the various species of living organisms in their natural and manmade environments, especially forests, aquatic ecosystems, wetlands and agricultural land.
- Managing human activities and utilizing biological resources in a way that preserves for the long term the basic natural resources, which are necessary for human livelihood and development.
- Ensuring that the benefits coming from the sustainable use of biological resources contribute to poverty reduction and improve quality of life for all Cambodians.
4. Strategic Objectives
The strategic objectives listed in each section constitute a reflection of the intentions of the government regarding each sector of activity. They are specific and measurable objectives that will guide the relevant ministries during the implementation phase of the strategy and action plan. Ministries will regularly document and report on the identified indicators attached to each objective.
5. Priority Actions
Priority actions adopted by the government can be grouped in three broad categories: actions promoting awareness and capacity building of government staff and local communities for biodiversity conservation and sustainable use of biological resources; actions promoting the implementation of community-based natural resource management; and actions aimed at clarifying ministerial jurisdictions, reducing responsibility overlap and promoting inter-ministerial coordination and collaboration in a sustainable development perspective.
Proposed mechanisms for implementing the National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan
- The production of an annual national report on policies, activities and plans aimed at implementing the Strategy;
- Co-ordinating the implementation of national and international elements of the Strategy through a permanent Interdepartmental Biodiversity Steering Committee and National Secretariat for Biodiversity;
- Measures to allow and encourage non-government participation in the implementation of the Strategy;
- Regular reporting on the indicators identified for each strategic objective
- Reporting on the status of biodiversity at the country level; and,
- Revision of the Strategy after an initial implementation phase of two years.
Successful implementation of the Strategy will be determined, in large measure, by the degree to which all parts of society adopt its vision and principles and contribute to achieving its goals. Ultimately, the conservation of biodiversity and the sustainable use of biological resources will require the support and participation of individual citizens, local communities, urban and local authorities, conservation groups, business and industry, educational and research institutions. The implementation of the actions listed in the Action Plan will be decentralized, de-concentrated and under the responsibility of each participating ministry, agency or non-governmental organization.
To monitor and evaluate the progress through the report, it is necessary to fix target of some available indicators in the plan. The BSAP Actions and indicators matrix can be used to effectively monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of the BSAP through the measurable indicators for the themed actions.
Ministry of Environment, Cambodia
Department of Planning and Legal Affairs
Postal address: #48, Samdech Preah Sihanouk,
Tonle Bassac, Chamkarmon,
Phnom Penh, Cambodia
National Biodiversity Strategy and Plan action, Ministry of Environment, April 2002. Last accessed on 22 October 2012 at http://www.cbd.int/doc/world/kh/kh-nbsap-01-en.pdf
The three objectives of the Biodiversity Convention are:
the conservation of biodiversity;
the sustainable use of biological resources; and
the fair and equitable sharing of benefits resulting from the use of genetic resources.