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Posted: 4/18/2022

RFI: Cambodia USAID -- Natural Resources Management Activity

This request for information aims to elicit stakeholders’ input on certain thematic areas to inform the new Natural Resources Management activity design under the Food Security and Environment Office of USAID/Cambodia to achieve its development outcome: inclusive and sustainable economic growth broadened.

Cambodia’s rich biodiversity results from having some of Southeast Asia’s largest tracts of forest and the largest inland body of freshwater in the region, formed by the Mekong River and the Tonle Sap River. The Mekong and Tonle Sap River systems are the second most biodiverse inland water systems in the world. Those rich natural resources are threatened by development activities, and natural and climatic disasters. Between 2001 and 2014, Cambodia lost 5,560 square miles of forests. Rapid human expansion into biologically sensitive areas is also putting pressure on the remaining natural habitats supporting these and other rare species that are of local, national, and international importance1 . Many challenges persist, including illegal logging, corresponding to a high demand for Cambodia’s high-value timber such as rosewood (Dalbergia bariensis and Dalbergia cochinchinensis); the illegal operation of many economic land concessions (ELCs) inside the protected areas; small-scale land conversion for small-scale agriculture including the conversion of flooded forests in the wider Tonle Sap floodplain; timber poaching, especially the harvest and export of Siamese rosewood, which is in high demand in Vietnam and China; and the undervaluation of forest ecosystem services such as carbon sequestration, wildlife habitats and air purification. Further, the majority of illegal logging is done by the military and powerful sub-contractors2 . Illegal commercial timber interests take advantage of weak law enforcement to benefit from illegal cutting.

USAID/Cambodia’s tropical forest and biodiversity analysis conducted in July 2019 found that a host of direct and indirect threats have led to habitat fragmentation, habitat loss, and depletion of fish and wildlife species in Cambodia. These threats affect forests, freshwaters, and marine and coastal areas and are often exacerbated by the impacts of climate change (Royal Government of Cambodia 2016). Two categories of priority threats are timber and wildlife poaching and hydropower; one is a primary threat in the terrestrial category, and one is a primary threat in the aquatic category. The analysis also raised some major drivers for biodiversity loss include governmental weakness, including corruption, and inadequate capacity and budget. Other drivers are development pressures such as land speculation and unregulated foreign investment, population growth, internal and external markets for timber and wildlife, and infrastructure development (hydropower, mining, and road construction) that result in direct habitat losses and indirect effects.

Response Date: Jan. 13, 2021

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