Landscape Story

Socio-ecological zoning of the Steung Siem Rep watershed area

Socio-ecological zoning of the Steung Siem Rep watershed area

The socio-ecological landscape selected for the implementation of COMDEKS is the Steung Siem Reap watershed area. This landscape is located in Northwestern Cambodia in the province of Siem Reap, home to the world-famous historic temple of Angkor Wat. It covers an area of 361,900 hectares and extends from the mountain range of Phnum Kulen to the Tonle Sap Lake. Because of the wide diversity of ecosystems, biological and geographic features found in the target landscape, the area has been divided into socio-ecological zones which take into account the topography, rainfall pattern, soil types, land use, forest cover change, and statutory land tenure systems variables using a Geographic Information System (GIS) to capture heterogeneity of the target area. The six zones identified include (1) Tonle Sap flood plain, (2) Rice plain, (3) Agro-archeological complex, (4) Agro-forest mosaic, (5) Upland agriculture and (6) Phnom Kulen National Park.

Biological Impact

cambodiaAs a result of these topographical differences, the soils in the watershed system reflect the geological setup, the topography and the interaction of surface water and ground water. The three most important types of soil are arenosols, weathered acrisols in the non-flooded downstream and midstream areas and the gleysols-fluvisols in the flood plain . Consequently , the spatial distribution of the natural vegetation also reflects the diversity of the ecological systems, patterns of precipitation, which ranges from 1093 to 1611 mm per year, groundwater and soil diversity. Evergreen, semi-evergreen and dry-deciduous vegetation are present in different parts of the catchment area, however several patches of fragmented forest are found in zone 4 and 5 for instance. Other areas such as zone 1 are seasonally flooded by Tonle Sap river and include grassland, shrub land, forests, ponds and lakes with important fishing grounds, which are managed mainly through community fisheries schemes, and deep-water rice plots.

Socio-Economic Impact

The target landscape comprises 10 districts, 66 communes, 470 villages and a total population of 500,000 (growing at an average rate of 2.2%.year. The heterogeneity of the landscape is an important dimension of the target landscape and people are traditionally involved in a wide variety of resource management activities across the plain. For example, on the main agricultural land, household farming is dominant (mainly rice but also other annual and tree crops). On public land, tenure arrangements are diverse: there are three main protected areas in the target landscape: the Phnom Kulen National Park, the Angkor Protected Landscape and the Tonle Sap Biosphere reserve. Natural resource management is mostly conducted through co-management schemes between communities and relevant government administrations (community forestry on forest land, community-run fisheries on fishing grounds and community protected areas in the Kulen area. The Siem Reap province has one of the highest poverty rates in Cambodia whereas it attracts by far the largest number of the country’s international tourists, as well as a growing number of domestic tourists. Many people in the area around Siem Reap town benefit from the economic impact of the rapid growth in the tourism industry. The distribution of such benefits is, however, somewhat uneven. It appears that people benefit more from employment in the construction, services and handicraft sectors than in the agricultural sector, though more than 80% of families are primarily involved in copping, livestock, fishing or forestry

Baseline Assessment

Final Country Programme Strategy of Siem Reap Landscape _07-12-2012The baseline assessment undertaken for the development of the Cambodia COMDEKS Country Programme Landscape Strategy (CPLS) identified and prioritized the problems and potential opportunities of the target landscape through a variety of methods such as: participatory rural appraisals organized in 13 villages (two/three villages in each socioecological zone), resource mapping exercises, seasonal calendars and problem/solution analysis were used to complement the set of resilience indicators in Socio-Ecological Production landscape and Seascapes (SEPLS), developed by IPSI members Bioversity International and UNU-IAS. These indicators helped measure and understand the resilience of target landscapes, the data sets were consolidated for each socio-ecological zone. Finally a workshop took place in Siem Reap to present the findings and generate discussion with other stakeholders (local authorities and technical institutions) about strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and challenges of resource management in each socio-ecological zone. The results from the baseline assessment of the target landscape for each socio-ecological zone varied, however overall the main concerns were the consequences of illegal logging and land degradation, low agricultural productivity due to the lack of water storage facilities for agricultural purposes which are essential in areas where there is low water retention in the soil and unsustainable natural resource use such as fisheries due to local governance gaps.

Landscape Strategy

The overall long-term objective of the COMDEKS Landscape Strategy is to enhance socio-ecological production landscape resilience through community-based activities. The COMDEKS Country program in Cambodia seeks to achieve the following outcomes:

a) Restore degraded biodiversity and ecosystem services through multi-functional land use systems

b) Improve livelihoods of people in the landscapes  through development of ecologically sound and community owned income generating activities

c) Strengthen ecologically sound agricultural production system in the target landscape for sustainable increase of crop yield and productivity

d) Establish and strength robust governance systems for effective participatory decision making at the landscape level

Country Project

The COMDEKS project seeks bring about community development, learning, and knowledge sharing by making available small grants to community organizations to help them maintain and manage more resilient socio-ecological production landscapes. The types of community projects that will be supported by COMDEKS Steung Siem Reap watershed area  to achieve socio-ecological production landscape resilience include: reforestation and tree nursery development in areas under community forestry scheme and through private plantation, supporting the integration of community forestry and grazing areas into Commune Land Use Plans, promotion of bee keeping activities and strengthening existing bee keeping associations,promotion of ecotourism activities and handicraft production, production and use of compost, forest humus and liquid, reinforcing various community based organizations in the target landscape, including community forestry organizations, community fisheries organizations, community protected area organizations and to strengthen their management plans. New! COMDEKS Country Programme Landscape Strategy for Cambodia can be downloaded here

Project Contact

Ms. Ngin Navirak
National Coordinator
Phone: +(855-23) 216 167/216 217 Ext.235

Ms. Socheata Kim
Programme Assistant
Phone:+ 23 216167/216217 Ext.133
Fax:+ 855 23 216257/721402

#53, Pasteur Street, Boeung Keng Kang, Chamkar Mon, P.O.Box 877 , Phnom Penh