Landscape approach to Sustainable management of forests in Prek Thnot Watersheds

Project title: Landscape approach to sustainable management of forests in Prek Thnot watershed [Project ID: 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
Start date & duration: January 2015, January 2015–December 2017, extended to June 2019
Target economy: Cambodia
Location: Prek Thnot watershed, Kampong Speu province
Objectives: Build capacity and raise awareness on the concept of integrated watershed/landscape planning for national and local stakeholders through scientific assessments, analysis and participatory watershed/landscape planning processes; Develop a watershed management plan of Prek Thnot watershed with participation of stakeholders; Share experiences and lessons learned from the project to stakeholders.
Expected outputs: Stakeholders’ improved knowledge and awareness of the concept of integrated watershed planning and development issues in Prek Thnot watershed that affect forest-dependent communities; Watershed characterization report of Prek Thnot watershed; Integrated watershed landscape development plan for Prek Thnot watershed; Two demonstration agroforestry sites contributing to soil and water conservation and livelihoods; Support for forest-based community enterprises;  Dissemination of project’s successful experiences, including policy briefs for the sustainable development of Prek Thnot watershed for relevant authorities. 
Project background
Maintaining good forest cover is crucial for the effective functioning of a watershed. The Prek Thnot watershed has a total land area of 666,764 hectares, of which 77.8 percent is in Kampong Speu Province which partly or entirely encompasses 65 communes and six districts. Most forest cover is found in the northwest of the watershed, although a few patches of forests can still be found downstream in the southeast, which are highly urbanized residential areas. Rice-producing areas that depend on the water from the tributaries of Prek Thnot are also located in the southeast.

However, the threat of deforestation in the uplands puts the watershed functions of the Prek Thnot at high risk. Many negative environmental consequences including soil erosion, depletion of soil nutrients, sedimentation of reservoirs, decrease of water quality and flooding of low-lying downstream areas will impact a large number of people. Immediate action is needed. Starting in July 2015, this APFNet project was designed to build capacity and raise awareness of government and local stakeholders for the concept of integrated watershed planning using scientific assessments, analysis and participatory land use planning at the landscape level. Another aim is to improve community livelihoods by promoting agroforestry and establishing community-based enterprises.

Project featured topics  
Integrated watershed management planning
Over two years, the project developed a watershed management plan. This plan will provide a new management approach to maximize benefits for each stakeholder, while at the same time protecting the ecological functions of the watershed. The watershed management plan was developed through a participatory approach by collecting the views of different stakeholders including community management committees, community forest members, local Forestry Administration staff, and local authorities. During a consultation workshop conducted in 2016, stakeholders shared their perception of the management plan, criteria for land use, and negative impacts of unsuitable land use. Combining and analysing the outcomes of the workshop; GIS data; an assessment of socioeconomic conditions of the community; and land use and farming practices led to a watershed characterization report and production of a land allocation map. The watershed characterization report focuses on biophysical and socioeconomic conditions of the Prek Thnot watershed, including documentation of existing land use and an environmental risk reduction plan. This provided the information base on which the land allocation map is built. The map optimizes various land use model options in the watershed, for example, whether a given plot of land should be used for agriculture or forest. Overall, the map provides options to help develop a watershed management plan, in alignment with key government and society goals on food security and poverty alleviation. The draft management plan was then put forward for stakeholder consultation in four districts.  The watershed management plan is expected to be adopted by stakeholders, including relevant provincial departments, and will showcase sustainable land use planning in Cambodia. In addition, it can be used to streamline commune land use planning and provide a guide for the prioritization of future development partner programmes, including non-governmental organizations, in Prek Thnot watershed. 
Agroforestry as a tool for soil and water conservation 
Increasing the income of community forest members is one of the main objectives of the project. The project engaged members to implement agroforestry to increase incomes, improve land conditions and also collect data for future analysis of soil erosion from agricultural land. Capacity building training for ten farmers on agroforestry and hydrology monitoring, in particular soil and water conservation, on agricultural land was held at the beginning of the project. Together with the project team, local Forestry Administration staff then identified farmers who were interested in piloting agroforestry on their private farmland. Four plots were established using high value timber species, such as Dalbergia cochinchinensis, Diterocarpus alatus, Hopea ordorata, inter-planted with annual agriculture crops and perennial fruit tree species, sour-sop, jack fruit, mango and moringa. All four sites had rain collectors and soil-collecting troughs to collect rainfall and soil erosion data for further analysis.  After the trials, the farmers stated that their practices have gradually changed over time. Mr Soung Van, from Domrey Chakthlork Community Forestry and a model agroforestry farmer, said, “the crops that we have planted on the agroforestry plots including pineapple, corn, lemongrass, jack fruit, mango, sour sop, etc. have grown well and we can see that soil has gradually changed from white (sandy) to black.” 
Figure 2. Local people receive agroforestry training. Photo: Institute of Forest and Wildlife Development and Research