A Park for the People, not for the Powerful: The Case for Protecting Cambodia's Ream National Park
Thanakvaro Thyl de Lopez
For the past decade, efforts to manage in a sustainable way the once bountiful natural resources of Cambodia have been confounded by short-term commercial interests. Protection of the environment is seen as a luxury in a country where the majority lives under the poverty line. Budget constraints and pressing social needs work against parks. This study takes a hard-nosed look at the economics of Preah Sihanoukvarman "Ream" National Park. After a year of fieldwork, an inventory of 37 hectares of mangrove forests, and more than 600 households and 1,300 visitors interviewed, the research team draws pessimistic conclusions. Given the uncertainties surrounding long-term protected area planning, most Cambodian policy makers are likely to favor the more immediate benefits of development. Without international transfer of funds for conservation, Ream National Park will be destroyed. Local communities, whose traditional livelihoods depend on the conservation and sustainable use of the park, stand to loose most; industrial loggers and commercial fishing fleets stand to gain most from the wanton exploitation of timber and marine resources.
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