Forest protection NGOs

The protection of Cambodian forests is primarily the responsibility of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forests and Fisheries (MAFF) and the Ministry of Environment. There are, however, many non-governmental organizations (NGOs) working in the area, from United Nations (UN) agencies and other global bodies to locally-registered NGOs. Projects for forest protection may be viewed on at least 3 levels of importance and activity: international, national and local.

Rubber Plantation in Cambodia. Photo taken by Irayani Queencyputri. Licensed under (CC BY-NC 2.0).

A rubber plantation in Cambodia. Photo taken by Irayani Queencyputri. Licensed under (CC BY-NC 2.0).

International programs and NGOs

The biggest international program is supported by the UN through the REDD+ programme, described in the pages Mitigation and Community Forestry. The project lists numerous NGOs engaged in this mission.1

Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) is a global organization and one of the oldest institutions working to save wildlife and wild places worldwide including Cambodia. Through promotion of conservation, education and capacity building, WCS aims to change human attitudes towards nature, and help wildlife and humans live in harmony.2 In Cambodia, WCS is working on many projects in Seima Forest, Northern Plains (in Preah Vihear province) and the Tonle Sap.3

The Center for People and Forests in Cambodia (RECOFTC) works with the Forest Administration, local governments, communities and NGOs to help establishing Community Forestry sites. The development of community forests is framed within the National Forest Programme 2010-2029 (MAFF). RECOFTC contributes to half of the community forest sites in Cambodia, around 245 over 14 provinces.

The REDD+ program also collaborates with other organizations and projects:

  • The Cambodia Supporting Forests and Biodiversity  (SFB) project (November 2012–February 2018), funded by USAID and under the management of Winrock International (Cambodia), provided grants to partner organizations such as East West Management Institute (EWMI), Word Wildlife Fund (WWF) and Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS). The project aimed to protect forests and, at the same time, maintain economic growth through sustainable forest management practices. Target areas of the project included the Eastern plains and Prey Lang landscapes as well as Seima Protected Forest through the Action Learning for Community Carbon Accounting program. This project should not be confused with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Cambodia Sustainable Forests Management program co-granted by the Global Environment Facility (GEF).
  • Fauna & Flora International (FFI), which was established to support threatened species and ecosystems while improving the livelihoods of the poor and the vulnerable. Their actions encompass four major programs: Food security, biodiversity conservation, equality and equity and disaster preparedness.

Overall, the REDD+ program in Cambodia provides both financial and technical support to governmental and non-governmental organizations, and, in turn, the latter sub-contract grants and further funds to some local NGOs and small local initiatives.

Two major networks gather NGOs to advocate for forest protection. The Non-Timber Forest Products Extension Programme (NTFP-EP), is composed of 60 NGOs and community-based organizations throughout Asia, and works to strengthen capacity and natural resource management.

National NGOs

The national level is less well addressed by NGOs, since most national protection is the direct responsibility of the Royal Government of Cambodia.

The NGO Forum on Cambodia, a membership-based organization that was established in the 1980s, sets goals and missions for information sharing, dialogue and advocacy. The organization has three programs dedicated to forest protection.

  • The Development Issues Programme
  • The Environment Programme
  • The Land and Livelihoods Programme (LLP)

Local projects and NGOs

The Council for Development of Cambodia issues a report every year on NGOs’ programs in Cambodia. The following table lists the ones in which the main objective is forest protection:


Project/Program title


Cooperation Agreement with Ministry

Project location


BirdLife International (BLI)

Western Siem Pang, towards a vision for biodiversity conservation in dry forests of Cambodia


Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry

Siem Pang district, Stung Treng province

01 June 2011 – 31 Dec 2015

BirdLife International (BLI)

Siem Pang Protected Forest, towards a vision for biodiversity conservation in dry forest of Cambodia (PhaseII)



Siem Pang district, Stung Treng province

01 Jan 2016 – 30 June 2019

Groupe Energies Renouvelables, Environnement et Solidarite (GERES)

Supporting Forests and Biodiversity (SFB)

Supported by Winrock Cambodia


Sandan and Santuk districts, Kampong Thom province

01 Jan 2016 – 31 Dec 2016

Winrock Cambodia

Supporting Forests and Biodiversity Project

Bilateral funding from the United States (USA)


Kampong Thom, Kratie, Mondulkiri, Preah Vihear, and Stung Treng provinces.

09 Nov 2012-31 Dec 2017

Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS)

Conservation and Landscape Management in the Northern Plains

Bilateral funding from France, European Unions (EU), the United States (USA), and Japan

Multilateral funding from United Nation Development Programme (UNDP)

Supported by Winrock Cambodia

Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry

Svay Leu district, Siem Reap province, and Preah Vihear province

01 Jan 2012-31 Dec 2017

Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS)

Southern Mondulkiri Biodiversity Conservation Project

Bilateral funding from France, European Unions (EU), Japan, Denmark, and the United States (USA).

Multilateral funding from Asian Development Bank (ADB), United Nation Development programme (UNDP), World Bank, and Food and Agriculture Organization​(FAO).

Supported by Winrock Cambodia

Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry

Snoul district, Kartie province; Keo Seima and Ou Reang districts, Mondulkiri province

01 Jan 2003-31 Dec 2017

Wildlife Alliance (WA)

Southern Cardamom Forest Protection Program

Bilateral funding from the United States (USA)

Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry

Kampong Speu, Koh Kong, Pursat, and Preah Sihanouk provinces

01 Jan 2016 – 31 Dec 2018

World Wide Fund for Nature Cambodia (WWF)

Eastern Plains Landscape (EPL)

Bilateral funding form Sweden, Europe Union European Union (EU)

Supported by Winrock Cambodia


Koah Nheak, Pech Chenda, and Saen Monorom District, Mondulkiri province.

01 Jan 2016  – 31 Dec 2016

Cambodian Rehabilitation and Development Board, Council for the Development of Cambodia, The Cambodia NGO Database. Reporting Year: 2017.4

Many NGOs support local community and community networks such as the Prey Lang community.5 Such support is made up of various elements including education, training, financial assistance or/and advocacy. Another example is the Forestry Rights Project6 that supports NGOs to mitigate the negative impacts of many large-scale acquisition development projects such as economic land concessions (ELCs).
Most of these NGOs work in partnership with Cambodia’s government ministries. Cambodian forests are, however, still facing the challenges of land conversion.7

Future prospects and challenges

NGOs remain important actors in implementing national plans. Numerous partnerships exist through Cambodia between national and local authorities and NGOs, aiming to strengthen forest protection.8 The protected areas structures increasingly involve NGOs for implementation. The area under protection has grown significantly in recent years, especially in 2016 when the government designated 1 million hectares of new protected areas, much of that around Prey Lang forest.9

The future of NGOs’ funding remains uncertain.10 If international aid decreases in the future, NGOs would be greatly affected, and so would forest protection.

Last updated: 27 December 2017

Related Forest protection NGOs


  1. 1. REDD+ Cambodia, NGO partners. Accessed 25 July 2016.
  2. 2. WCS Cambodia. “WCS History & Mission.” Accessed on 11 August 2016.
  3. 3. WCS. “Saving Wild Places: Seima Forest, Northern Plains and Tonle Sap Lake & Floodplain.” Accessed on 11 August 2016.
  4. 4. Council for the Development of Cambodia Cambodian Rehabilitation and Development Board, “The Cambodia NGO Database”. Reporting Year: 2017. Accessed 27 December 2017.
  5. 5. The NGO Forum on Cambodia. Land and Livelihoods Program. Forestry Rights Project. (2013). “Prey Lang Development Case: Do People Benefit From Its Development ». Accessed 25 July 2016.
  6. 6. The NGO Forum on Cambodia. (2013). “Forestry Rights Project”. Accessed 25 July 2016.
  7. 7. Phak Seangly. “Asia’s forests grow, but not in Kingdom: NGO”. Phnom Penh Post, 24 November 2014. Accessed 25 July 2016.
  8. 8. Kong Meta. “Green light for protected forest plans”. Phnom Penh Post, 22 April 2016. Accessed 11 August 2016.
  9. 9. “NGOs Support Royal Government of Cambodia to Designate Almost One Million Hectares of New Protected Areas” Wildlife Conservation Cambodia. Accessed 11 August 2016.
  10. 10. Vong Sokheng, Ananth Baliga. “PM Hun Sen again blasts foreign donors”. Phnom Penh Post, 30 June 2016. Accessed 25 July 2016.
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