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publication September 2, 2020

Valuing the Ecosystem Services Provided by Forests in Pursat Basin, Cambodia


Key Findings

  • In the Pursat River Basin, the economic benefits from intact forests (estimated at US$99 million) are almost five times higher than the gains from cutting them down for small-scale agriculture and charcoal production estimated at US$22 million.
  • Maintenance costs of forests are 20 times lower than the benefits provided by forests to other economic sectors. The forests in the Pursat River Basin provide annual benefits worth an estimated US$8.2 million from tourism, carbon and water and sediment flow regulation. The government spends about US$0.4 million annually on forest protection in Pursat. This indicates that the return on spending on forest protection is an efficient use of the government’s budget.
  • Opportunities for receiving revenues from private and international sources for forest maintenance could mean zero costs for the government in the long run.

Key Recommendations

  • Focus forest protection and restoration efforts on upstream watersheds in the Cardamom Mountains Protected Area Landscape to enhance the resilience of water resources. These can be achieved by:
    • prioritizing zoning and development of a protected area management plan in Samkos Wildlife Sanctuary and Biodiversity Conservation Corridors;
    • assessing opportunities for agroforestry on existing agricultural lands; and
    • developing interventions for reducing the pressure on forest resources from charcoal, including more sustainable charcoal production and environmentally friendly alternatives to wood charcoal.
  • Explore the potential for private financing to support protect area management.
  • Develop a road map for scaling up assessments of economic benefits provided by forest ecosystems across Cambodia using a Natural Capital Accounting (NCA) approach.