Socio-economic Context of Forest Biodiversity Use along a Town–Forest Gradient in Cambodia

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Little is known about the impact of socio-economic conditions for biodiversity conservation in Cambodia. High deforestation rates and a politically unstable recent past indicate a problematic setting for conservation efforts. Here, we studied a forest–town gradient along four villages between a population
centre (i.e., Siem Reap) and the forest of the Phnom Kulen National Park in rural north-western Cambodia.
We analysed whether rural communities’ dependence on forest resource extraction precludes strict forest and national park protection. A total of 149 structured interviews in four local communities revealed a rapid advance of a typical forest frontier. With increasing distance to town, small businesses as income sources decreased, whereas forest-related activities and slash-and-burn agriculture increased. Local residents were strongly dependent on forest resource extraction, especially on fuel wood, and land use for slash-and-burn agriculture as cash and subsidence income sources. Most forest resources—especially large-bodied wildlife species and timber, both used predominantly by households with a better asset-based index of wealth—were
rated as diffi cult to fi nd. No signifi cant relationship between the use of non-timber forest products and wealth could be identifi ed. We conclude that the importance of forest resources increases with proximity to the forest,
however, households rely on forest resources for income supplementation rather than for primary income.
To prevent the continued degradation of forests, their resources and related biodiversity, greater community engagement and capacity building in sustainable forest management practices combined with stricter law
enforcement, and protection from harvesters from outside of the local communities are required.
Original languageEnglish
JournalRaffles Bulletin of Zoology
Issue numberSUPPL.25
Pages (from-to)37-53
Number of pages17
Publication statusPublished - 2012

    Research areas

  • Biology - Conservation planning, distance gradient, forest resource use, shifting cultivation, Southeast Asia, wealth index
  • Ecosystems Research