Effectiveness of Community Forestry in Prey Long Forest, Cambodia


 Conservation Biology

Cambodia has 57% forest cover, the second highest in the Greater Mekong region, and a high deforestation rate (1.2%/year, 2005–2010). Community forestry (CF) has been proposed as a way to reduce deforestation and support livelihoods through local management of forests. CF is expanding rapidly in Cambodia. The National Forests Program aims to designate one million hectares of forest to CF by 2030. However, the effectiveness of CF in conservation is not clear due to a global lack of controlled comparisons, multiple meanings of CF, and the context-specific nature of CF implementation. We assessed the effectiveness of CF by comparing 9 CF sites with paired controls in state production forest in the area of Prey Long forest, Cambodia. We assessed forest condition in 18–20 randomly placed variable-radius plots and fixed-area regeneration plots. We surveyed 10% of households in each of the 9 CF villages to determine the proportion that used forest products, as a measure of household dependence on the forest. CF sites had fewer signs of anthropogenic damage (cut stems, stumps, and burned trees), higher aboveground biomass, more regenerating stems, and reduced canopy openness than control areas. Abundance of economically valuable species, however, was higher in control sites. We used survey results and geographic parameters to model factors affecting CF outcomes. Interaction between management type, CF or control, and forest dependence indicated that CF was more effective in cases where the community relied on forest products for subsistence use and income.