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A permaculture project is fighting deforestation in Cambodia | Leaf Probably

I am currently in the early stages of developing a large permaculture design for an ecosystem restoration project, eco-resort and farm in Cambodia. This project is an attempt to fight back against illegal logging and devastating deforestation in this region and may be of interest to those interested in sustainable ecosystem restoration.

Cambodia’s challenges

Cambodia has experienced many hardships and tragedies over the past few decades. Today it is a country sadly threatened by crises on several fronts, including intense pressure from illegal logging and the rapid destruction of its precious remaining rainforests.

As in so many regions of the world, the key to tackling deforestation in the region lies in engaging and empowering local communities. Planting trees alone will not be enough to stem the tide of ecosystem destruction; rather, a holistic view must be taken.

All conservation, protection and restoration work must go hand in hand with work to improve the lives of local people. It must focus on people’s needs and on developing strong educational programs that enable people to understand the link between healthy environments, human health, resilience and economic prosperity.

Deforestation in Cambodia is driven not solely by greed but by need. Farmers are inevitably drawn to the promise of profits from commodity production. When Western consumers shop, Cambodia’s forests are cleared.

However, the harsh truth is that locals feel they have few other options. That is why it is so important that alternative models are provided for economic but also for intrinsic value.

Cambodia has one of the fastest rates of forest loss in the world. Huge areas have been deforested in the last decade and the destruction continues at a dramatic rate. Tragically, Cambodia has lost about 64% of its tree population since 2011.

Unfortunately, it seems that the government cannot be trusted to stop illegal logging. Therefore, communities and individuals who want to contain the destruction must try to take matters into their own hands.

Restoration, Rewilding, Renewal in Kampot Region

The project I am working on, which covers an area of ​​around 250 hectares in the Kampot region of southern Cambodia, is a holistic project that will include large areas of watershed restoration and rewilding. There are two main valleys running through the project’s focus area.

The North Valley

The northern valley will become the base for ecosystem restoration and hosts an eco-resort with sustainable bamboo huts and resort buildings amidst permaculture gardens and agroforestry. A dam and reservoirs, pond systems and other earthworks, hydro, wind and solar power, and sustainable systems will be integrated to ensure the site can sustain ecotourism while serving to reforest the surrounding landscape.

This zone will be used to educate local people on sustainability and restoration best practices, and ultimately to welcome international visitors who intend to help with the restoration and reforestation of the surrounding hills and enjoy the lush surroundings.

A tree nursery will be set up to serve this project site as well as to provide seeds and seedlings for other projects in the region.

Watersheds are slowly being populated (funded by welcoming international visitors and selling produce and processed foods) with trees such as Sindora siamensis (a large evergreen tree), Afzelia xylocarpa (a large deciduous tree known as Makha or Cambodian Beng tree), Albizia ssp. (paper bark tree), Diospyrus ssp. (Buschfeld Blaubush), Dipterocarpus ssp. (another large evergreen native to Southeast Asia), Syzgium cumini (Malabar plum), Tectona grandis (teak) etc.

The southern valley

The larger southern valley, currently used for local agriculture, will be rehabilitated and enhanced – to improve the environment while increasing and diversifying yields. A sustainable farming community will be established in the southern valley with space to process crops from the valley’s farmland. It will not only be a place of residence for farmers and workers and their families, but also a hub for disseminating information and skills to other local farmers and farm workers.

This project is still in its infancy and there is still much to be done. However, I hope that this project shows that the needs of humanity can be balanced with the restoration and restoration of native vegetation. By working closely with local people to meet their economic and personal needs, we can work toward a better future for all.

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