Based on efforts by MacArthur grantee the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), the Cambodia Ministry of Agriculture, Forest and Fisheries recently approved new legal protection for the Seima Biodiversity Conservation Area. In 2003, after WCS surveys identified the area as a stronghold for numerous threatened species, the approximately 3,000 square-kilometers abandoned logging concession in Eastern Cambodia was designated as a conservation area by the government. However, this designation did not officially preclude future commercial logging or other extractive development. The new sub-decree by the Ministry upgrades the legal status to a protected forest, rules out future commercial logging, agricultural concessions or tree plantations, and places strict controls on road development in Seima. The measure also includes language about the importance of conserving carbon stocks within the area, which is an important signal of government support for a climate change mitigation project MacArthur plans to finance through WCS and Winrock International. Final approval of the sub-decree by Cambodia’s Prime Minister is expected this year.

Conservation & Sustainable Development, Asia, Conservation, Policy