Conservation of Prey Long Forest Complex, Cambodia

By Schmidt, L. and Theilade, I. (2010). Conservation of Prey Long Forest Complex, Cambodia Working papers nr.50-2010. Forest & Landscape

Emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries constitute some 20% of the total emissions of greenhouse gases annually. If we are to be serious in our efforts to combat climate change, reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD) in developing countries must be addressed.

REDD projects has the potential to generate substantial benefits in addition to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. These include positive impacts on biodiversity and sustainable development, including poverty reduction and strengthening indigenous people’s rights. The proposed REDD project seeks to provide the financial means to manage and conserve the last intact vestige of lowland rainforest in Cambodia. In doing so, the project aims to produce a triple dividend – gains for the climate, for biodiversity and for sustainable development in Cambodia.

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NCT to triple biofuel output in Cambodia

Cambodia’s NCT Jacam Energy Company plans to more than triple its production of biodiesel made from jatropha seeds by January next year, aiming for production of up to 2,000 litres per day.

Rising prices of traditional, petroleum-based diesel fuel in the Kingdom has resulted in growing demand for biofuels this year in order to help power the nation’s electricity generators, according to company president Chheuy Sophors.

The firm’s jatropha refinery in Kampong Speu province presently produces some 600 litres of fuel per day that fetches about 3,200 riels per litre from local consumers.

In comparison, petroleum-based diesel cost a minimum of 3,450 riels per litre at local markets yesterday, according to statistics from the Ministry of Commerce.

“Jatropha farmers and owners of generators will have an opportunity to increase their income when we increase our biodiesel production,” Chheuy Sophors said.

Jatropha is a quick-growing tropical plant. Its seeds can be crushed to oil for biodiesel production.

It has potential to produce a large amount of energy compared to the area required to grow, compared to other fuel-producing crops, according to a United Nations Food and Agricultural Organisation report issued earlier this year.

However, relatively little research has been done into the crop, and concerns remain about the toxicity of the plant’s seeds and the possibility that it may become an undesirable weed in certain growing conditions, according to the report.

NCT Jacam Energy Company first began daily production of 100 litres of biodiesel at its US$400,000 processing factory last October.

It does not own plantations, but instead purchases raw jatropha from farmers in Kampong Speu, Battambang, and Banteay Meachey for approximately $85 per tonne, Chheuy Sophors said.

Producing 1 kilogramme of biodiesel required three times the amount of unprocessed jatropha seed, he said, and added that the firm would require 6 tonnes of seed per day to meet its production goal of 2,000 litres.

“In three years, we hope that the company will be producing 5,000 litres of biodiesel per day as farmers grow the crop more and more,” he said.

Although NCT is ambitious in its expansion plans, other firms experimenting with the crop have experienced teething problems.

Mong Reththy Group has been growing the crop on 100 hectares in Steung Treng province since 2008, but company President Mong Reththy said yesterday that the firm had no plans to expand its plantation.

He said the plantation had encountered difficulties in recruiting workers to travel to the province, located more than 500 kilometres from Phnom Penh near the Laos border, a factor that stymied its growth plans.

The sector in Cambodia presently consists of three companies that produce between 100 and 500 litres of biodiesel per day, according to Ministry of Industry, Mines, and Energy.

Another 10 companies at least are studying the feasibility of producing the fuel in Cambodia.

The MIME secretary of state responsible for renewable energy said earlier this year that the government supported all biodiesel production because the fuels are more environmentally friendly than petroleum, and create jobs and economic activity.

Source: (20 July 2010)

Villagers protest mine plan

Hundreds of villagers and local officials have thumbprinted a petition protesting against a planned titanium mine in Koh Kong province, and plan to pass the document on to Prime Minister Hun Sen through local officials on Monday.

The petition, which has been signed by the chief of Chi Phat commune, four village chiefs and about 500 villagers, will today be handed to the Forestry Administration’s chief coastal inspector, Vann Sophanna, who has also voiced opposition to the project.

Penned by conservation group Wildlife Alliance, the petition argues that the mine – expected to extract a million tonnes of titanium ore – will drive away ecotourism revenue and ruin the area’s biodiversity through water pollution and deforestation.

“All mining is done with water, and this will basically poison the waterways and ruin the fish population, and of course it will poison the people, animals and kill ecotourism,” Suwanna Gauntlett, the country director of Wildlife Alliance, said yesterday.

At a community meeting and inspection of the site earlier this week, Vann Sophanna said he personally opposed the mine because its planned location overlapped with 144,000 hectares of protected forest and would impact local ecotourism projects.

“We need to keep this forest cover green, so we will report the worst negative impacts and explain them to the inter-ministerial committee so they can balance the interests of preserving natural resources and the benefits of the mining exploitation,” he said.

He added that the final decision rested with the prime minister, who he hoped would support the concerns expressed in the petition.

Neither the developer of the mine, United Khmer Group, nor relevant government ministries could be reached for comment yesterday.

According to Wildlife Alliance, United Khmer communicated on June 10 that it company would construct a quarry of between 20 and 200 metres in depth over a 15,000-to-20,000 hectare area to extract high-grade titanium.

If successful, the company said, Chinese companies would then construct another three or four mines covering an area of about 100,000 hectares in Koh Kong in addition to the first mine.
Consensus Economics, a macroeconomic survey firm, forecast in late 2009 that in June of this year titanium ilmenite ore would be worth US$95 per metric tonne, meaning the mine could contain deposits worth around $95 million.

But Vann Sophanna said the mine would also doom a potentially valuable carbon sink established under the UN and World Bank-backed Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) scheme.

A preliminary survey by Wildlife Alliance and the Forestry Administration estimated such a scheme could be worth between $1.8 and 2.8 million per year in revenue to the government.
Under the REDD scheme, polluting companies in developed countries would pay the Cambodian government to protect 200,000 hectares of forest in Koh Kong to offset their own carbon emissions, with 40 percent of the revenue going back to the local community.

The mine area also intersects one of only seven remaining elephant corridors in Asia and is listed by Conservation International as one of 34 global biodiversity “hot spots”.

Source: (16 July 2010)

Forest official raises concern about the potential loss of the REDD scheme in Cambodia

A Forestry Administration official said yesterday that a massive titanium mine proposed for Koh Kong province would threaten natural resources and local livelihoods, and vowed to pass on his concerns to Prime Minister Hun Sen.

Vann Sophana, in charge of the Forestry Administration’s Coastal Inspectorate, met with villagers in Thma Bang district who stand to be affected by the mine, which the NGO Wildlife Alliance has said would cover 15,000 to 20,000 hectares.

On Monday, Wildlife Alliance Country Director Suwanna Gauntlett said the mine would threaten 144,000 hectares of protected forest in the district, as well as ecotourism projects that support 150 families in Chi Pat commune.

She also said the mine would doom plans to implement a Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) scheme that NGOs and officials had been hoping to launch in 2011. The scheme allows polluting companies in developed countries to offset their carbon emissions by paying developing countries to protect forests.

After yesterday’s meeting, Vann Sophana indicated that he shared these concerns.

“Firstly, the area is overlapping with forests protected by Sub-decree No 65 of the Royal Government of Cambodia,” he said, and added that the project seemed to be in conflict with a government resolution declaring that mining poses a serious threat to forest coverage.

He also expressed concern about the potential loss of the REDD scheme, which Wildlife Alliance estimates could bring between US$48 million and $85 million of revenue to Cambodia over the next 30 years.

“If this mine happens, the REDD project will not happen,” Vann Sophana said. “The REDD project is very important because it protects natural resources while selling credits to developed industries – it is an industry with no smoke.”

During her presentation to villagers, Gauntlett said the United Khmer Group, which has reportedly obtained one of two required permits for the project, had informed her organisation that Chinese companies planned to build another three mines covering 100,000 hectares of nearby forest if the first mine proved successful.

Phorn Thou, representative of the United Khmer Group, said yesterday that his company had no intention of harming any villagers in the area.
“We want to reduce the poverty in that area, and we want to help them by giving them jobs,” he said. “Our goal is Khmer helping Khmer.”

Chi Pat commune chief Uy Iaiy and the chiefs of four separate villages were unified in their opposition to the mine. “With the mining company, I’m not sure if villagers can get a job there or not,” said Hot Pov, the chief of Teuk Laork village.

Source: (July 14, 2010)

Mine Plan Threatens REDD in Cambodia

The conservation NGO Wildlife Alliance yesterday criticised plans for the development of a titanium mine in Koh Kong province, saying the project would scare off ecotourism investors and derail implementation of a lucrative pollution-reduction scheme.

Suwanna Gauntlett, the group’s country director, said the United Khmer Group had recently obtained a permit from the Ministry of Industry, Mines and Energy for the mine, which she said would cover 15,000 to 20,000 hectares in Thma Bang district.

“Now they need a permit from the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, but they’re ready to go. They’re building the roads already and redoing the bridges,” she said.

Company representative Phorn Thou confirmed his company intended to mine titanium in the province, but said no permits had been granted. “My company is in the process of mapping out the area,” he said.

Pech Siyon, director of the provincial Industry, Mines and Energy Department, said a concession for a titanium in the district had recently been granted, but he declined to name the company or give any other details.

Gauntlett said the mine would threaten 144,000 hectares of protected forest in the district, as well as ecotourism projects that support 150 families in Chi Pat commune. Her organisation, she said, had spent nearly US$600,000 developing community-based tourism projects there over the past nine years.

“If we had known about this mine about three years ago we would have never had invested all this money in this area,” she said.

She also said the mine would doom plans to implement a Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) scheme that NGOs and officials had been hoping to launch in 2011. The scheme allows polluting companies in developed countries to offset their carbon emissions by paying developing countries to protect forests. Wildlife Alliance believes it would generate at least several million dollars in revenue.

Vann Sophanna, chief of the Forestry Administration’s Coastal Inspectorate who is due to meet concerned Chi Pat villagers today, could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Source: (July 13, 2010)

ADB to Invest in Greater Mekong Subregion, Clean Energy Fund

MANILA, PHILIPPINES - The Asian Development Bank (ADB) will invest $15 million to support clean energy projects in the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) and South Asia through the Mekong Brahmaputra Clean Development Fund.

The fund will invest in companies engaged in renewable energy, energy efficiency, and water conservation and waste recycling projects. It expects to invest in at least 10 clean energy and environment projects by 2014.

Many people in the GMS and South Asia have no access to modern forms of energy. In 2008, 83% of households in Cambodia, 80% in the Lao People's Democratic Republic, and over 50% in Viet Nam still used wood for fuel so it is critical to increase sustainable energy investments. The situation is often worse in South Asia.

At the same time, strong economic growth throughout Asia has already put substantial pressure on the region's resources and is straining the environment. Further development of carbon-based power generation capacity, such as coal and oil, needs to be carefully evaluated to ensure that access to energy does not come at the price of steadily increasing greenhouse gases, contributing to global climate change.

Experts have stressed the havoc that rising greenhouse gas emissions could wreak on livelihoods in Asia and the Pacific if left unchecked, and urged governments in this region and the rest of the world to find ways to halt or reverse climate change.

"Further economic development in the Greater Mekong Subregion and South Asia requires greater access to energy. We must help meet this demand for energy in a way that is sustainable and doesn't further damage the environment," said Philip Erquiaga, Director General of the Private Sector Operations Department at ADB.

The fund has a target size of $100 million and will be managed by Dragon Capital Clean Development Investments Ltd., a subsidiary of the Dragon Capital Group, which has longstanding experience in asset management in Viet Nam. Other investors in the fund include the Belgian Investment Company for Developing Countries, the Finnish Fund for Industrial Cooperation, and the Netherlands Development Finance Company.

"Private investors and financiers can play an extremely important role in the development of alternative sources of energy in Asia. We hope that ADB's participation in the fund will encourage other private-sector players to invest in clean energy projects that will generate both attractive rates of return and a cleaner, more environmentally sustainable future," said Mr. Erquiaga.

Source: (9 July 2010)

Katoomba XVII Conference in Vietnam 2010: PES and the development of REDD in Cambodia


Tom Clements has worked in international conservation for over 10 years. From 2002-2008 he was based in Cambodia for the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) as the lead advisor on large landscape-scale conservation projects, including development of market-linked mechanisms for conservation such as PES. Since 2008 he has worked regionally for WCS in South-east Asia on PES and the development of REDD, including work for the USAID TransLinks programme. He is currently the advisor to the Cambodian Government’s National REDD+ Readiness planning process.

Combining Multiple PES Markets - Tom Clements on Experiences in the Region and Beyond from Katoomba Group on Vimeo.

Kurt McLeod, Vice President for PACT for Asia and Eurasia, presents a comparative analysis of policy and implementation approaches across Southeast Asia

Forest Carbon and REDD Architecture: Kurt McLeod on policy and implementation approaches across Southeast Asia from Katoomba Group on Vimeo.

The UN-REDD Programme’s recent workshop in Viet Nam on Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC)

Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) is a rights-based principle representing a particular expression of the right to self-determination, related rights to land, territories and natural resources, the right to culture, and the right to be free from racial discrimination. FPIC applies to key decision points for actions that have the potential to impact the land, territories, and resources upon which rights holders depend for their cultural, spiritual and physical sustenance, well-being and survival, and is of particular relevance to future REDD+ activities.

A recent interview with Tim Boyle (UN-REDD Regional Technical Advisor), Nina Kancheva and Elspeth Halverson (UN-REDD consultants) on the UN-REDD Programme’s recent workshop in Viet Nam on free, prior and informed consent (FPIC).