Multi-function forest restoration and management of degraded forest areas in Cambodia
Project title: Multi-function Forest restoration and management of degraded forest areas in Cambodia [2011P4/6-KHM]
Supervisory Agency: Forestry Administration
Executing Agency: Institute of Forest and Wildlife Research and Development
Implementing Agency: Institute of Forest and Wildlife Research and Development
Budget in USD (total/APFNet grant): 441,830/ 386,570
Duration: 12/2011 – 3/2015
Project Category: Demonstration Project
Target economy: Cambodia


The goal of the project was to rehabilitate the degraded forests in the project sites to a status well stocked with high-value timber and non-timber forest products (NTFPs) species and/or with multifunction, and to aim for the project sites to become recognized national model on forest rehabilitation and rural livelihood improvement.

To enhance the restoration of community forests in Siem Reap and Kampong Thom provinces to produce timber and NTFPs to improve the livelihood of the local community.

Output 1: To establish a community nursery in each pilot site.
Output 2: To establish models of forest restoration plots in each pilot site.
Output 3: To publish and disseminate knowledge and experience on multi-functional forest restoration to relevant stakeholders and the general public.

Activity 1.1: To prepare, approve and use the Annual Work Plan (AWP) and Overall Work Plan (OWP).
Activities 1.2-1.3: To establish two nurseries (one in each pilot site) and study seed phenology of indigenous tree species in natural forests.
Activity 1.4: To organize a training course on nursery management for the five staff from the local Forestry Administration and two community members.
Activity 1.5: To publish and disseminate research results on seed pre-treatment and germination of some priority tree species and optimum potting mix.
Activities 2.1-2.3: Zoning and mapping of forest in two pilot sites and the establishment of model forest restoration plots, and research plots on forest restoration in each pilot site.
Activity 3.1: Review the policy and legislative framework for forest restoration.
Activities 3.2-3.4: Dissemination of project results by publishing a Technical Note on Forest Restoration, producing a TV spot, and organizing a workshop on “forest restoration for livelihood improvement and biodiversity conservation”.

Project background
In Cambodia, about 400,000 ha of natural forests have been placed under the management of local communities, through the Community Forestry system, living in or adjacent to the forests for livelihood and income generation. Community forestry can involve a range of forest types, from pristine natural forests to secondary or severely degraded forests to tree plantations (RECOFTC). Most of the community forests in Cambodia are in degraded condition after several decades of overharvesting which affected the biodiversity and the livelihood of the community. In the community forests of Cambodia, natural regeneration may be impossible because of the lack of trees as a seed source. Restoration of the community forest is needed to conserve the remaining forest resources and to improve the forests’ capability to provide the basic needs of the community. However, equitable and sustainable forest restoration is challenging because it is about reinstating the balance of the ecological, social, and economic benefits of forests and trees with a broader pattern of land use. This APFNet project aims to train local communities on forest restoration and restore portions of community forests (CFs) in Tbeng Lench and O Soam CFs located in Siem Reap and Kampong Thom provinces respectively (Fig.1). The project site in Kampong Thom province had been added later as a replacement for a protected forest site in Koh Kong where project implementation was at risk due to policy changes.

Fig.1: Zoning of vegetation covers in two CF sites

Project featured topics
Forest Restoration
Forest restoration is the principal management strategy applied to degraded primary forests and it can be perceived in a way that species composition, stand structure, biodiversity, functions, and processes of the restored forest will match, as closely as feasible, those of the site-specific original forest. Tree species selection for rehabilitation or restoration of a degraded site based on the purpose. In O Soam and Tbeng Lech CFs, the species selected by the local communities - high-value legume trees, endangered or threatened species, such as Afzelia xylocarpa, Dalbergia cochinchinensis, Xylia xylocarpa, Pterocarpus macrocarpus, Sindora cochinchinensis, and non-timber forest product (NTFP) species – were used in pilot forest restoration. They identified the rattan species- Daemonorops jenkinsiana as an important NTFP to be developed in the CF. The project combined several restoration methods: (1) agroforestry; (2) enrichment planting; (3) cluster planting; (4) direct seedling; (5) improvement thinning. The choice of each method considers the economics of restoration, and the multifunctionality of the species and promotes the rapid establishment of the desired commercial species.
Demonstration plots were established to showcase the technical aspects of restoration and maintenance of the plantations to the communities. The rehabilitation method consisted of a combination of different techniques (enrichment planting, assisted natural regeneration, and thinning). A field survey in Tbeng and Lech and O Some community forestry was conducted to assess the physical conditions of the two pilot community forests for deciding methods of forest restoration. Fig. 1 shows the zoning of vegetation cover in two CF sites. Based on the assessment results, the specific treatments recommended for each type of site condition are summarized in Table 1. Then, research entitled “Community Participatory Action Research (CPAR) Approach of Enrichment Planting with Dalbergia cochinchinensis, Pinus merkusii, and Daemonorops jenkinsiana in CF Sites” was conducted in the two CF sites. CPAR is an effective approach in working with the communities who will be the ultimate beneficiary of the project and trained on how to conduct research. As part of the participatory approach, the community was consulted on which species are most important for them and which species are difficult to propagate. From the consultations, the community identified plants Pinus merkusii, and Daemonorops jenkinsiana (rattan) in O Soam CF and Dalbergia cochinchinensis and D. jenkinsiana (rattan) in Tbeng Lech CF.

Table 1. Applied methods for rehabilitating the degraded sites
Type of vegetation O Soam Community Forestry Tbeng Lech Community Forestry
Deciduous forests dominated by Tbeng (Dipterocarpus obtusifolius) · Assisted natural regeneration, combined with fire prevention  
Degraded semi-evergreen forest · Enrichment planting (line or group/gap) planting of commercial species
· Assisted natural regeneration
Abandoned agricultural land inside a deciduous forest · Mixed species plantation in line or group of nitrogen-fixing trees
· Assisted natural regeneration, combined with fire prevention
Degraded evergreen forest   · Enrichment planting (line or group/gap) of commercial species in combination with assisted natural regeneration where adequate seedlings are observed
Abandoned agricultural land   · Enrichment planting of mixed species in line or group in an area that is free from flooding
Capacity Building
This project helped in building up the skills of the CF members in restoring the community forests with valuable species. The training covered collection and storage conduction on seed germination and viability experiments, seedling production, and silviculture methods (planting and thinning). The community members underwent training on collecting seeds from the plus trees (mother trees exhibiting superior phenotypic characteristics), assessment of the quality of collected seeds, and the proper storage. The quality of forest stands depends mainly on the quality of the seeds that will be used as planting materials. Fig.2 described the forestry administration (FA) subnational staff teaching the local community about assessing the collected seeds.

Fig.2 The FA subnational staff teaching the local community about assessing the collected seeds 
Project outcomes
The project has achieved the three outputs as planned. A community nursery and its affiliated facilities have been established at each project site. Representatives of communities and local FA have learned the techniques of seedling production and forest rehabilitation. Four (1-ha) plots of model forest restoration were established at each site. A total area of 50 ha (30 ha in O Soam and 20 ha in Tbeng Lench) have been restored with priority species identified by communities. Enrichment planting was identified as the appropriate method of forest restoration in the two sites considering the species composition, soil condition, and local needs. Forest restoration was committed to achieving the long-term vision of the two communities, which is to have “the community forests recovered with the abundance of timber trees and NTFPs that can support the construction needs and livelihood improvement”. Fig.3 shows the collection of NTFP and charcoal production from CF. The density of high-value timber (HVT) and particularly the diversity of species has been increased through enrichment planting of multiple tree species and as a result, forest functions will be enhanced.

Fig.3 Collection of NTFP and charcoal production. (A) Charcoal production;(B) Medicinal plant collected from CF;
(C) firewood collected from Economic Land Concession-ELC for charcoal production, and (D) different types of mushrooms collected from CF

Since the restoration work has just started in 2013, it is still too early to notice significant results. Restoration may take time to exhibit positive impacts. However, the project has motivated the communities to see themselves as the key players in the process and thus, they take ownership of each of the elements that make up a forest restoration structure and adapt the process to their needs. The greatest outcome arising from the project has been the development of the capacity of local communities to produce seedlings and conduct forest rehabilitation.
And three aspects of the project outcomes will be sustained for at least the next 5-10 years.

1. The community forests are well protected.
2. The nurseries have become an additional source of income generation for the local communities. Knowledge and skills on seedling production obtained during the project implementation will be used for producing seedlings including fruit trees, for supplying to local markets, NGOs, and government institutions involved in tree planting. For example, O Soam nursery has been contacted to supply 3,600 seedlings of six species (four of them are fruit trees) to local FA for planting in 2015. The nurseries and knowledge and skill in seedling production (nursery management) and forest restoration can be used for short-term and long-term benefits. Multiple species including rattan, bamboo, fruit trees, and particularly HVT species were planted in the two CFs, and these planted species enriched the community forests with significant sources of livelihood and income generation.
3. The demonstration models of forest restoration to visitors (local and international), particularly other CFs. This also means that local communities at the two CFs will remain the key players in disseminating knowledge on forest restoration to others.
The project team concluded that participation of local communities and local FA is the key to success in forest restoration and community forest management. It was observed that local communities at the two sites have the willingness to learn all aspects of forest restoration because they have a common goal, reverse their forests back to the conditions before they were degraded. Forest rehabilitation is not just about the forest but also about people depending on the forests for livelihood and income generation. Hence, it is suggested that further forest restoration programs should include components/ activities other than those closely related to forest restoration. Activities related to improved livelihood of local communities, promotion of wood-based enterprise in the communities, and community-based ecotourism could be considered for future forest restoration programs.

Furthermore, the project team suggests to extend the 15-year-period of CF. CF are forests owned by the state that have been allocated to communities under a 15-year agreement. The development of the CF within 15 years may not be sufficient for many CFs due to the degraded condition of their forests. If a community starts rehabilitating the forests, it will take time before the forest is recovered. The forest restoration is long-term in nature as the growth rate of many indigenous species, particularly the HVT species, is relatively slow. Longer-term CF contracts will motivate the communities in developing and investing in the rehabilitation of degraded forests and they can be assured to get benefits from their investments.

 Project documents
Project Proposal

Completion Report
Consultancy report: Study on the Policy and Legislative Framework for Forest Restauration

 News and related information
Conserving high value tree species in Cambodia
Multi-Functional Forest Restoration and Management of Degraded Forest in Cambodia

Leaflet multi-function forest restoration and management of degraded forest areas in Cambodia

Technical Report: Income generation from community forestry: the case for Tbenglech and O soam community forestry 
Technical notes on forest restoration in coummunity forests