Edited by David Pearce, Corin Pearce and Charles Palmer
Chapter 19: Economic analysis of tropical forest land use options in Cambodia
Camille Bann 1 INTRODUCTION Ratanakiri is a remote, sparsely populated province in the extreme northeast of Cambodia. The province covers an area of 11673 km2 and is richly forested. Forest land in Ratanakiri represents an extremely valuable natural resource, but the area faces a number of destructive commercial development activities. Given the fact that local communities in Ratanakiri are totally dependent on the forest and in view of the rapid rate of deforestation evident throughout Cambodia, sustainable forest management options urgently need to be identiﬁed for the area. Over 85 per cent of the population (79533) of Ratanakiri belong to ethnic minorities sometimes referred to as ‘highlanders’.1 For centuries the highlanders have made their living in and around the forest, clearing the forest for farming and collecting subsistence products such as fuelwood, medicine, food and construction materials from the forest.2 Villages are based within locally recognized boundaries. However, families have no legal rights to the land. Despite current commercial pressures on the area, management plans for Ratanakiri’s forest land are yet to be developed. Furthermore, there is no clear interpretation of the law on protected areas, illegal logging is evident, and the user rights over forest and agricultural land under Cambodian law are ambiguous and not enforced. Unless development of the province is carefully planned and managed, irreversible damage to the natural environment could occur, which would have a damaging impact on the subsistence and self-reliance of the population as well as on the wider aim of sustainable economic...
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