Saving Cambodia's Dry Forests | WWF

Saving Cambodia's Dry Forests



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Typical open dry forest with grassy understory in Cambodia's Eastern Plains Landscape.
© WWF-Cambodia / Nick Cox
Just 50 years ago, large herbivores like Banteng, Asian Elephant, and Eld’s Deer as well as predators like Indochinese tiger and leopard were so abundant in the Dry Forests of North and Northeast Cambodia that scientists compared this ecoregion to the savannas of East Africa. In the troubled decades that followed, however, habitat destruction and hunting greatly reduced animal numbers and diversity. Today, the largest intact dry forests in Indochina remain in north-eastern Cambodia in an area known as the Eastern Plains Landscape (EPL).
WWF-Cambodia works in two key protected areas in this landscape, Mondulkiri Protected Forest and Phnom Prich Wildlife Sanctuary. Even in these areas, animal numbers are critically low, especially of large herbivores and their predators. With its largely intact dry forest habitat, the area forms part of the tiger landscape with the highest potential for recovery in Asia. With increased protection effort, there are already many signs of improvement, particularly of leopard, and prey species such as banteng, deer, and wild pig. This leaves hope that, at some point in the future, wildlife in the EPL can be restored to its former glory.

Biodiversity in the Eastern Plains Dry Forests Landscape

The Eastern Plains’ Dry Forests are internationally recognized for their large vertebrate fauna. These forests are home to a range of mammals red-listed by IUCN as threatened with global extinction. While the critically endangered kouprey is likely to be extinct, other emblematic endangered species like Indochinese tiger, Asian elephant, or banteng still remain at low but significant numbers. Globally, the ecoregion is also of prime importance because of its populations of critically endangered ibises and vultures. [Read more...]
 
	© FA / WWF-Cambodia
Learn more about the biodiversity of the Eastern Plains Landscape.
© FA / WWF-Cambodia

Dry Forest Ecology

The Lower Mekong Dry Forest Ecoregion is characterized by a mosaic of habitats. The main forest type is deciduous dipterocarp forest. On higher quality soils or at higher elevation, areas of mixed deciduous forest and semi-evergreen forest occur. This mosaic of forest types is one of the reasons why such a large quantity and diversity of species are home to this landscape – the diverse forest patches act as key resource areas and refugia for a lot of wildlife. [Read more...]
 
	© Arnulf Koehncke / WWF-Cambodia
Learn more about dry forest ecology.
© Arnulf Koehncke / WWF-Cambodia

The Dry Forest Ecoregion Action Programme

In partnership with the government and other NGOs, WWF has developed the Dry Forest Ecoregion Action Programme. At the landscape scale, this programme addresses a broad range of threats to the Dry Forests such as conversion for agriculture, illegal wildlife trade, land encroachment, and infrastructure development. At more local scales, such an approach also has positive impacts for conservation projects at the site level. [Read more...]


 
	© Nick Cox / WWF-Cambodia
Learn more about WWF's Dry Forests Ecoregion Action Programme
© Nick Cox / WWF-Cambodia

Communities in the Ecoregion

More than 25,000 people live in the eight communes surrounding Mondulkiri Protected Forest and Phnom Prich Wildlife Sanctuary – about 30% of the total population of Mondulkiri province. These communities are comprised of eleven ethnic groups, the indigenous Bunong, Khmer, and Lao being the three largest. [Read more...]

 
	© Em Tray / WWF-Cambodia
Learn more about the communities living in the ecoregion.
© Em Tray / WWF-Cambodia

Threats to Values and Resources

There is increasing pressure on the natural resources from residents and migrants living in and around the area. Loss of forest cover and encroachment on previously uninhabited forest, combined with several years of national and regional turmoil, has resulted in serious threats to fauna and flora. [Read more...]

 
	© WWF-Cambodia / Rohit Singh
Find out more about threats to values and resources.
© WWF-Cambodia / Rohit Singh

Conservation Strategies to Preserve Biodiversity

In Mondulkiri Protected Forest and Phnom Prich Wildlife Sanctuary, WWF and its partners are using an approach that has been successfully implemented in Southern Africa. ‘Wildlife Conservation by Sustainable Use’ demonstrates how wildlife conservation can contribute to economic development. [Read more...]

 
	© Din Bunthoeun / WWF-Cambodia
Learn more about WWF's conservation work in Cambodia's Eastern Plains Landscape.
© Din Bunthoeun / WWF-Cambodia

Ecotourism in the Eastern Plains Landscape

Ecotourism offers one of the most sustainable means of making substantial economic returns from investing in wildlife conservation. The Royal Government of Cambodia, along with WWF and other NGOs, is testing tourism development as a way to conserve wildlife and contribute to economic development in Mondulkiri Protected Forest. [Read more...]
 
	© WWF-Cambodia / Meas Jame
Find out more about Ecotourism in Cambodia's Eastern Plains Landscape.
© WWF-Cambodia / Meas Jame

Forests for a living planet

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	© WWF
    During the 2011 International Year of Forests, WWF’s Living Forests Report is part of a year‑long conversation with partners, policymakers, and business about how to protect, conserve, sustainably use, and govern the world’s forests in the 21st century.