Some of the country’s more than 600 “forestry communities” — groups with a claim to communal forests, which they help protect and manage — will be tapped to produce sustainable charcoal and fuelwood under a test project.
According to Forestry Administration director general Keo Omaliss, five out of 636 communities in the country have so far been signed up to the project, which will provide seedlings so the communities can produce and profit from charcoal in a sustainable way.
They will be encouraged to only cut down mature trees and replace them with regrowth, he said.
“In Kampong Speu province, cutting trees for fuelwood and charcoal caused an impact to the whole province. That’s why we’re organizing tree replanting linked to charcoal production,” Omaliss said.
The five community forests for the pilot program are in Pursat province.
The U.N. Development Programme, a partner in the project, said the annual consumption of fuelwood in the country had reached about 6 million tons, “equivalent to the annual loss of 71,600 hectares of deciduous forests.”
“This is an alarming concern that needs to be addressed not only for the sake of the sustainability of forests but also the human wellbeing,” it said in a press release announcing a mobile app to buy the project’s charcoal.
According to the Center for People and Forests, a regional nonprofit headquartered in Bangkok, Cambodia aims to create 1,000 community forests by 2030, with sites averaging nearly 1,000 hectares each.
“This would mean 1 million hectares under community management — some 10% of the country’s total forest area,” the group says on its website.
Global Forest Watch says Cambodia lost nearly 2.2 million hectares of forest between 2001 and 2018 — about 24 percent of its tree cover, among the worst rates of forest loss in the world — largely due to commodity production such as rubber plantations.
(Translated and edited from the original article on VOD Khmer)