Growing demand for timber as construction material, fuel and charcoal is devastating Cambodia’s forests. In 1975, the latter covered 73 per cent of the country’s surface; last year it was down to only 46.84 per cent.
Cambodia’s forests – evergreen, semi-evergreen, deciduous and dry dipterocarp forests, and flooded forests – covered 8.7 million hectares in 2016. However, in its Human Development Report Cambodia 2019, published last week, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) says that unsustainable developments such as economic land concessions, hydropower and mining projects, as well as illegal logging, have led to a spiral of degradation for both ecosystem and people.
“Mitigating this pressure and moving towards sustainable forest management starts with restoring degraded forests and bolstering productive capacity in the 15 per cent of forests currently reserved for timber harvesting (1.3 million hectares of 8.7 million hectares of forests overall,” the report says.