Landscape Approach to Sustainable Management of Forests in Prek Thnot Watersheds

Project title: Landscape Approach to Sustainable Management of Forests in Prek Thnot Watershed [2015P1-KHM]
Supervisory agency: Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries
Executing agency: Institute of Forest and Wildlife Research and Development
Budget in USD (total/APFNet grant): 573,015/499,215
Duration: 06/2015-05/2019
Project category: Research and policy development project
Target economy: Cambodia
Site location: Prek Thnot watershed, Kampong Speu province
- To build capacity and raise awareness of integrated watershed/landscape planning for central and local stakeholders through scientific assessments, analysis, and participation in watershed/landscape planning processes.
- To develop a watershed management plan for the Prek Thnot watershed with the participation of stakeholders.
- To share the experiences and lessons learned from the project with stakeholders.


Output 1: To improve knowledge and awareness of the target stakeholders on the concept of integrated Watershed Planning and the development issues in Prek Thnot Watershed that affect the forest-dependent communities.
Output 2: To characterize Prek Thnot Watershed (including socio-economic and biophysical information).
Output 3: To develop an integrated watershed landscape development plan for Prek Thnot Watershed.
Output 4: To establish two demonstration sites on the agroforestry system, contributing to soil and water conservation and livelihoods.
Output 5: To support forest-based community enterprise.
Output 6: A draft policy brief for the sustainable development of the Prek Thnot watershed landscape.

Activity 1.1: Assess the required training and provide training to Forestry Administration (FA) staff and farmers.
Activity 1.2: Map out critical areas in the Prek Thnot watershed, identify priority areas for forest-dependent communities and habitats for wildlife, and conduct biophysical, socioeconomic survey, and risk assessments of the critical priority areas
Activity 2.1: Develop participatory landscape restoration and sustainable management strategies and action plans for the identified critical priority areas
Activity 2.2: Identify two agroforestry sites and assess the socioeconomic benefits of agroforestry.
Activity 2.3: Establish regular soil and hydrological monitoring systems and measure and, based on regular monitoring and periodic assessment, analyze and communicate the results to stakeholders.
Activity 2.4: Conduct Participatory Resource Appraisal (PRA) of Potential Enterprises, implement and monitor the forest-based enterprise in a community forest.
Activity 3.1: Drafting of a policy brief and feature stories on sustainable development of the Prek Thnot Watershed.


Project background
Maintaining forest cover is crucial for the effective functioning of a watershed. The Prek Thnot watershed covers a total land area of 666,764 hectares, of which 77.8% are in Kampong Speu Province, partly or entirely encompassing 65 communes and six districts. Most of the forest cover in the watershed is found in the northwestern part. However, only a few patches of forests can be found in the downstream area of the southeastern part, a highly urbanized residential area. Rice-producing areas that depend on the water from the tributaries of Prek Thnot are also located in the southeast part of the watershed.
However, Prek Thnot is subjected to the encroachment of human activities and improper activities. The watershed is increasingly exposed to hazards and disasters, particularly droughts, floods, pests and diseases, and storms that affect people’s food and nutrition security. Inappropriate land use has been considered the main cause of degradation, and degradation can lead to many negative environmental consequences, including soil erosion, depletion of soil nutrients, sedimentation of reservoirs, decreases in water quality, and flooding of low-lying downstream areas, ultimately impacting many people. Thus, the immediate and proper action is needed.
Started in July 2015, this APFNet project was designed and developed aiming to build capacity and raise awareness for the concept of integrated watershed planning for central and local stakeholders through scientific assessments, analysis, and participatory land use planning at the landscape level and to improve community livelihoods by promoting agroforestry and establishing community-based enterprises.

Project featured topics 
Integrated Watershed Management Planning (IWMP)
One of the activities of implementing the project “Landscape Approach to Sustainable Management of Forest in Prek Thnot Watersheds” was to develop an integrated watershed management plan (IWMP). Prek Thnot is one of the critical watersheds in which the upstream is in Kamong Spoeu province. The highest elevation in the watershed is the upstream, around 1,700 meters above sea level-masl, which are in the Northwest and Southwest, while the Northeast and East are low elevations with gentle slopes. Forest cover was most of the land use in the watershed which, accounted for 45%, and it was followed by agricultural land, which accounted for 32% (see Fig.1). The goal of the management plan is to enhance the ecosystem function of Prek Thnot Watershed through improved watershed governance and sustainable management of the resources and contribute to the economic development”. The IWMP was therefore developed to serve as a guide to decision-makers and resource managers on the judicious use of the land. An optimization model (Linear Programming-LP and Goal Programming-GP) was used in land allocation to satisfy societal goals (i.e., maximization of benefits and minimization of negative impacts). Although this approach has been widely used in many resource management problems, this is relatively new in Cambodia. There are eight major land allocation options considered in the IWMP:
(1)      Rice Production
(2)      Industrial Crops (Cassava, sugar cane, potato, etc.)
(3)      Industrial Tree Plantations (Eucalyptus, Mangium, and other fast-growing species)
(4)      Fruit Orchard
(5)      High-Value Crops (Cabbage, Tomato, Spices, etc.)
(6)      Conservation/Protection
(7)      Sustainable Forest Management (SFM) (CF, Partnership Forestry, Low Impact Logging)
(8)      Forage Production
The result of land allocation noted some conflict between recommended land use and actual situations on the ground. Mitigating measures were drawn to mitigate these conflicts that, include: (1) Promoting sustainable land management and eco-farming in the Economic Land Concession-ELCs and farmers; (2) Developments of some areas for Industrial Tree Plantation-ITP; (3) Introducing agroforestry to ELCs and individual farmers; (4) Promote organic rice farming to areas recommended for rice farming but located in critical areas. These areas must be delineated solely to produce organic rice; (5) Promote precision agriculture technology and judicious use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides. (6) Set buffer zones along rivers and streams to protect forests.

Fig.1 Land use/land cover in Prek Thnot watershed

Agroforestry as a tool for soil and water conservation and livelihoods
Increasing the income of CF members is one of the project’s main objectives. As such, the project engaged CF members to implement agroforestry to increase their income, improve land conditions and collect data for future analysis of soil erosion from agricultural land. The project started with capacity-building training for ten farmers on agroforestry and hydrology monitoring, particularly soil and water conservation on agricultural land.
Then, together with the project team, the local FA identified farmers interested in piloting agroforestry trials on their private farmland. Fig.2 shows the location of the Agroforestry Demonstration Sites. As a result, four plots were established on farmers’ land using high-value timber species such as Dalbergia cochichinensis, Dipterocarpus alatus, Hopea ordorata and inter-planted with annual agriculture crops and perennial fruit tree species such as sour-sop, jack fruit, mango, and moringa. All four sites had rain collectors and soil collecting troughs to collect the rainfall and soil erosion data for further analysis installed (Fig.3 &4).

Fig.2 Location of the Agroforestry Demonstration Sites

Fig.3 Installing the rainwater collector (left picture); Fig.4 Farmer collecting topsoil deposited in the contour canal (right picture)

Project outcomes
After the project was completed, the project achieved remarkable results. It has contributed to raising awareness of the watershed in Cambodia, particularly the Prek Thnot watershed, through a series of consultative workshops. Fig.5 shows participants holding small group discussions during the consultative workshop. Posters, factsheets, and information materials were distributed to various stakeholders. The project has contributed to the improvement of the skills of farmers in agroforestry and soil and water conservation. The Chief of the Community Protected Area (CPA) in Chambok expressed his interest in land/soil management for sustainable agriculture, which he learned from the workshop. He felt that the knowledge he learned would apply to his site. The agroforestry interventions have brought some socioeconomic changes that include the reduction of erosion and runoffs, the improvement of land productivity, and the income of the households. This project has also been contributing to and supporting local communities in the watershed area to have improved livelihood by developing community-based enterprises and using an integrated conservation and development approach. The hydrological model (Soil and Water Assessment Model-SWAT) indicated that the proposed land allocation would improve the hydrology of the Prek Thnot watershed in terms of reducing surface runoff and soil erosion due to improved land use (Fig.6). After the trials had been established, the farmers stated that their practice had gradually changed compared to before, saying, “the crops that we have planted on the agroforestry plots including pineapple, corn, lemongrass, jack fruit, mango, sour soap, etc. have grown well, and we can see that soil has gradually changed from white (sandy) to black” said Mr. Soung Van, Domrey Chakthlork Community Forestry and a model agroforestry farmer of the project.  

Fig.5 Participants holding small group discussion during the consultative workshop
IWMP will be very useful to the provincial government of Kampong Speu and the decision-makers in deciding development activities in the watershed. For sustainability, it will help in guiding local authorities in managing their areas within the watershed. The land allocation may serve as a framework for the Communes in developing their Commune Land Use Plans-CLUP.  The lessons learned and the experience of the exercise can be incorporated into updating the CLUPs of the communes in the Prek Thnot watershed. The project developed a policy brief that provided policy directions to support the implementation of the IWMP and improve the management of the Prek Thnot watershed. Therefore, a second phase will follow after the project's completion, focusing on the site developments. The implementation of the plan will include the following:

1. Updating the CLUPs of the communes
2. Implementing sustainable forest and land management in the Prek Thnot watershed; and
3. Piloting the implementation of sustainable land management (e.g., agroforestry, contour plowing/farming, restoration) in the ELCs, Community Forestry, Community Protected Areas, and riparian areas.
Fig.6 Hydrology of Prek Thnot watershed. (A)Comparative current and project surface runoff; and
(B) Comparative current and projected soil erosion


 Project documents

2015P1-KHM Project Proposal

2015P1-KHM Project Completion Report


2015P1-KHM Policy Brief
2015P1-KHM Integrated Watershed Resource Management Plan
2015P1-KHM Hydrological SWAT Modelling Plan
2015P1-KHM Watershed Characterization of Prek Thnot Watershed
2015P1-KHM Community Based Enterprise Development Plan for Damrey Chak Thlork, Kampong Speu Province