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Cambodia has a land area of 181,035 kilometers, of which 56.5% is classified as forest land, 32.1% agricultural land and 11.4% for other land use purposes. During the Khmer Rouge era, from 1975-1979, private land ownership was abolished. The Land Law 2001 introduced state public land and state private land that is mostly converted to Economic Land Concessions (ELC). It is estimated that 25% of the rural poor are landless, with an annual increase of 2%. 40% of the rural poor are also land-poor as the possession of less than 0.5 ha per household cannot produce enough food for subsistence.

The system of granting concessions was introduced under the French colonial system. The first concessions were initiated in 1874. The system of land concessions continued after Independence, ceased during the Khmer Rouge administration and was reintroduced after the Land Law 1992 was passed. Legally MAFF is the only authority for granting ELCs. In practice, the other authorities are also granted rights to issue concessions. During 1993-2002, about 6.5 million ha, 70% of the forest cover were held under concession. In the wake of negative impacts from the concessions, this system was abolished in 2002. With an insignificant portion of timber supply from the Production Forests and Plantations and very little data found on timber logging from mining and hydropower projects, the EU-FLEGT Facility (2014) concluded that Economic Concession Lands had become the dominant supplier of timber in Cambodia. In Cambodia, the Permanent Forest Estates (PFE) consist of Permanent Forest Reserves and Private Forests. The PFEs are further classified into Production forests, protection forests and conversion forestland for other development purposes. According to the Forestry Law, all natural production forest types are state property managed by the Forestry Administration, Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fishery. The State should recognize and ensure the traditional user rights of the local communities living within or near the Permanent Forest Reserves, for the purpose of traditional customs, beliefs, religions and livelihoods. The traditional user rights for forest products and by-products do not require the permit. The MAFF has the authority to allocate any part of the PFR to a community living inside or near a forest area in the form of a Community Forest.


University of British Columbia


Thursday, May 18, 2017