Impacts of Economic Land Concessions in Cambodia
A report from Ratanakiri Province
This study aimed at identifying and analyzing current and prospective impacts of economic land concessions on community protected areas and indigenous peoples living near the concession areas in Ratanakiri province.
Cambodia is striving to make its development sustainable, inclusive, and equitable. Economic land concessions (ELCs) have been regarded as a major economic vehicle for job creation, revenue generation, and poverty reduction. Notwithstanding, ELCs may heighten the vulnerability of populations in the ELC-affected areas, especially indigenous peoples (IPs) whose livelihoods rely on natural resources. Further, ELCs might trigger mismanagement, increase population and development pressures, and intensify the destructive harvesting and exhaustion of natural resources by diverse user groups (Neth, Sour, & Va, 2011).
The current economic development in the forms of ELCs, forest and mining concessions, and hydro-power dam construction together with the influence of Cambodia-Lao-Vietnam (CLV) integration have transformed Northeastern Cambodia, particularly Ratanakiri province, into a less nature-harmonious region (Neth, Rith, & Tao, 2015). These development schemes have triggered decreased traditional agricultural production, decreased biodiversity and ecosystem quality, increased competition and conflicts over natural resources, decreased livelihood strategies and cultural alienation of indigenous communities, and increased monopolistic businesses and mono-cropping culture. Resultantly, IP communities in Ratanakiri province are having fewer capital assets for their livelihoods (Neth, Rith, & Saut, 2014). Moreover, there has been decline in community participation in implementing development and conservation-oriented activities as communities are becoming more reluctant to preserve their common pool resources, which could eventually lead to unsustainable community livelihoods.
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