Prospects of Participatory Forest Management: A case study of Prey Lang Forest, Cambodia

Start date: 20 February, 2016 End date: 25 May, 2016 Project type: Master's Thesis (prior to 2018) Project code: A29350 Countries: Cambodia Institutions: University of Copenhagen (UCPH), Denmark Grant recipient: Charlotte Engell Denham Total grant: 11,500 DKK



Co-management is a management approach which has gained increased recognition as an alternative strategy to achieve better outcomes for conservation and livelihoods than a top-down approach, by involving local communities. Although, co-management has not been found to be a panacea, as it has not been uniformly successful in avoiding habitat destruction and improving local peoples’ livelihood. Extensive research into prerequisites for the success or failure of such arrangements, has shown that possible outcomes are dependent on a number of contextual variables and processes. Therefore, each resource system should be viewed individually. In Cambodia, institutional provision for co-management is currently under draft, which opens a possibility for local communities to co-manage protected areas. Drawing upon fieldwork conducted in the north-eastern Kratie province and other available literature, the objective of this study was to evaluate the challenges and constraints in current plans to develop provisions for co-management in Cambodia’s protected forests, focusing on the Prey Lang forest complex. For the analysis, a social-ecological system framework was applied, where attributes of actors, governance, and resource systems were considered. The results indicate that the size of the resource system, unclear system boundaries, lack of understanding of roles and responsibilities, and low level of trusts could be a constraint for co-management. While, the productivity of the resource system, the presence of strong leadership, and forest dependency of local communities could be a facilitating factor for co-management. The impact of the identified variables on the success of co-management remains ambiguous, as details of its institutional arrangement is still awaited, therefore more future research is required to study the implications for biodiversity conservation and for local livelihoods.