First Regional Workshop
7 May 2002
Economic planning and protected areas
Presented by Ros Seilava, Financial Controller, Ministry of Economy and Finance
Cambodia is an agrarian economy with 80 per cent of the workforce employed in agriculture, which accounts for about 36 per cent of GDP, while industry accounts for 25 per cent and services 35 per cent.
Cambodia has a population of about 13 million people, of which 36 per cent live under poverty line. 90 per cent of the poor live in rural areas. Average per capita income is less than US$300 per year.
Water, energy, fisheries and tourism play an important role in economic growth. These resources are critical for sustainable development.
Modern industry, such as garments, also relies on natural resource supply for its development.
The contribution of natural resource use to economic growth in Cambodia
Three phases characterise the growth in Cambodia during the nineties:
Growth was rapid during the first period, with a peak of 7.6% in 1995 and an average yearly rate of 6.6% over the first four-year phase. This period is characterised by an intensive use of natural resources, water, forests and fisheries resources overuse resulting in rapid deforestation and a decline in catch-per-unit-effort.
During this period there was an increase in logging and fisheries for both domestic consumption and exports and intensive development of agriculture with the repatriation of refugees from the Thai border. Between 1993-97 an estimated 700,000 ha of land was deforested; 345,000 ha being relegated to shrublands and a similar amount converted to agriculture.
Growth slowed down in 1997 and 1998 (3.7% and 1.5%). It was a boom-burst growth. However growth has picked up again since 1999-02, buoyed by garments and tourism - both dependent on natural resources.
Policy response to optimise the contribution of natural resources to the economy
Recognising its importance, the Royal Government of Cambodia moved to introduce forest reform, which focuses on combating illegal logging, improved forest concession management and community forestry.
Fisheries reform resulted in cancelling more than 50% of fishing lots and community fisheries.
Land reform, introduced to ensure security of land use and land tenure, encourages long-term investment on land productivity. A Ministry of Water Resources was established to better manage this important resource.
A shift from only using "command and control" as the tool of management to a policy mix: command/control and economic instruments, such as the level of timber royalties, community development and moral suasion has taken place.
The policy priority is for rural and agricultural development, poverty reduction and increased investment in rural areas.
The decentralisation of economic and budget planning with participation of rural communities has meant the following:
There has been movement from an open access regime to common property rights regime. In developing community forestry and fisheries, members have both rights and responsibility to protect resources.
There has also been an increase in investment in protected areas, although the level of investment did not match the contribution it made to the economy.
The contribution of protected areas to sustainable economic development in Cambodia
This presentation and the field reports highlight the contribution of protected areas to sustainable development in the next decade and the need to rationalise the use of natural resources in the protected areas:
There is great potential ecotourism value from protected areas
representing an important source of development. There is an increase
in national and international tourists visiting protected areas and therefore
potential for job and revenue generation for local communities. However
there are also negative impacts.
Forest resources and non-timber products (rattan, bamboo, resins, food etc.) are collected for traditional uses and for cash.
Development of new energy resources will boost industry and reduce pressure on forests. 95% of rural people use firewood as energy. The construction of the Kirirom hydropower station provides cheap and clean energy. There is a multiplier effect on economic activities. However environmental impacts need to be considered,
Protected areas benefit agricultural productivity through soil conservation and water flow regulation, which are critical for the provision of potable water and for the irrigation, leading to the development of sustainable agriculture and special protection for the agricultural landscape.
In the future protected areas will promote trade with full implementation of the Kyoto Convention through carbon trading, thereby renting out protected areas and biodiversity to other countries.
Actions for the future
By developing protected areas Cambodia has embraced a new instrument for sound natural resource management, which focus on both protection and sustainable use in response to overuse of natural resources during the boom-burst period. However, appropriate action needs to be taken on several issues: