Enhanced Field Protection of the Cardamom Rainforest Landscape

Timeframe: 2019 - 2021
Country/Region: Cambodia
Partner: Wildlife Alliance

South East Asia is at the epicentre of the global extinction crisis and the majority of the region’s Protected Areas are ‘paper parks’ with insufficient resources, capacity, or supervision to achieve effective species conservation. The Cardamom Rainforest Landscape in Cambodia extends over 157’000 ha and is a critical part of the Indo-Burma Biodiversity Hotspot which supports populations of more than 50 IUCN threatened species including Asian elephants, Sunda pangolin, mainland clouded leopard, Siamese crocodile, pileated gibbon, Asiatic black bears and giant ibis.

Wildlife Alliance has been active in the landscape since 2002 developing and subsequently implementing a unique law enforcement strategy focusing on creating and managing high performance teams of forest rangers. This approach has delivered clear conservation successes, resulting in significantly increased presence of threatened wildlife in the project area, after severe decimation during the 20 years of civil war followed by the construction of a trans-boundary freeway that cut through the rainforest. However, threats impacting the landscape’s wildlife are increasing due to Chinese investment in Cambodia which is causing land speculation, illegal forest clearance and stimulating the illegal wildlife trade. Without high performance eco-guard teams, the project area will return to being a “paper park”.

Fondation Segré has previously supported this anti-poaching patrols project and has decided to renew its contribution in 2019, this time to support the operations of the Koh Pao Ranger Station which is responsible for protecting ~100’000 ha of Southern Cardamom National Park. Ranger operations will reduce threats, principally hunting with snares and forest degradation. The second project objective focusses on protected area zonation and community land demarcation of 2’000 ha which will secure land tenure for local villagers: this is a critical tool to safeguard against outside settlers. Visible markers will be installed on the ground so everyone can clearly see where the agreed boundaries are. The Wildlife Alliance Rangers Station will also continue working with their network of confidential informants, collaboration already developed under the previous Fondation Segré grant, to adapt patrol strategy and to respond to information about new illegal activity.