13,736,390 tCO2e emissions avoided to date
1.4M tCO2e avoided per year
- Location: Cambodia
- Developer: WCS
- Standards: VCS, CCB
Keo Seima Wildlife Sanctuary (KSWS) is home to more than 950 wild species, including 75 globally threatened species. It is also the ancestral home of the indigenous Bunong people, whose unique culture and beliefs are inseparable from the forest in which they live. Originally designated as a protected area in 2002, KSWS is managed by the Royal Government of Cambodia’s Ministry of Environment, with technical and financial support from WCS Cambodia.
KSWS plays a vital role in the preservation of the region’s important and vulnerable wildlife, including the world’s largest populations of the endangered black-shanked douc and yellow-cheeked crested gibbon, as well as a nationally important population of Asian elephant and many other species. At the same time, it supports the sustainable development of local communities, most notably through securing communities legal title to their traditional lands, and through the REDD+ Benefit Sharing Mechanism which provides significant funding to community-chosen and community-led development projects.
Illegal land clearance is currently KSWS’s greatest threat. Driven by expansion of cash crops and land speculation, KSWS sits at the frontier of a wave of deforestation that has swept through an adjacent, unsupported protected area. Illegal hunting with guns, dogs, and snares is also a direct threat to wildlife species, and illegal targeted logging of valuable timber threatens rare tree species and causes community conflict.
Key components of this multi-faceted conservation project include reducing illegal activity through direct law enforcement; establishing community tenure and sustainable use of land and natural resources; supporting alternative livelihoods that reduce pressure on the forest; and developing legal and planning frameworks to guide long term management of the area. These are supported by effective monitoring and evaluation, effective administration to reduce overhead costs, and sustainable finance mechanisms to ensure long-term support.
With long-term technical support from WCS, a clear set of goals, targets, and objectives have been defined for effective, equitable, and inclusive management of the protected area. Community teams support sustainable development by helping indigenous communities secure tenure; providing agriculture training; supporting alternative sustainable livelihoods such as ecotourism; and supporting education. Law enforcement teams apply Cambodia’s legal frameworks to reduce illegal activity. World class biodiversity monitoring and GIS teams measure the impact and effectiveness of these interventions on forest cover and wildlife populations, providing protected area mangers high quality data to inform management decisions.
KSWS has high-level support from the Royal Government of Cambodia, acting to pilot the REDD+ mechanism and demonstrate the effectiveness of this model for sustainable financing of protected areas across Cambodia.
Notable project achievements include:
- Highest number of wildlife species recorded in any protected area in Cambodia
- World’s largest (and crucially, stable) populations of several charismatic primate species, and well as regionally and nationally significant populations of ungulates and birds
- Secured indigenous community land titles for seven Bunong communities, including Cambodia’s first, with six more under review by the Cambodian Ministry of Environment, and an additional four in process.
- Established and supported the community-run ecotourism project Jahoo Gibbon Camp, now bringing more than $14,000 annually in community income, park entrance fees used to support management, and community development funds.
- Cambodia’s first data-driven zonation process for the protected area, taking into account more than 40 spatial data layers, providing objective and robust decision support for long term land use planning and sustainable protected area management.