Types of state-protected areas

Flooded forest in Cambodia. Photo by Andrea Kirkby, taken on 11 May 2014. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic.

Flooded forest in Cambodia. Photo by Andrea Kirkby, taken 11 May 2014. Licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0.

A 1993 royal decree designated 23 protected areas covering about 3,273,300 ha, equal to around 18% of the country’s total land area, and brought them under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Environment.1 

The protected areas system established by the royal decree divides the areas into four categories:2

  • National parks: areas reserved for nature and scenic views, protected for scientific, educational and entertainment purposes.
  • Wildlife sanctuaries: areas preserved in their natural condition to protect wildlife, vegetation and ecological balance.
  • Protected landscapes: areas to be maintained as scenic spots for leisure and tourism.
  • Multi-purpose use areas: areas necessary for the stability of water, forestry, wildlife and fisheries resources, for pleasure, and for the conservation of nature while allowing some economic development.

The Cambodian system uses the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s classification for protected areas. The national parks and wildlife sanctuaries comply with category II and IV of IUCN’s classification system. The protected landscapes and multiple use areas conform to category V and VI of the IUCN’s classification system respectively.3

In addition, the Royal Government of Cambodia (RGC) designated:

  • Six protected forest areas administered by the Forestry Administration (FA)4, and
  • Eight fish sanctuaries administered by the Fisheries Administration (FiA).5

In 2008, the RGC adopted the Law on Protected Areas introducing and defining a new zoning system to manage the protected areas in Cambodia.6 Chapter III of the law underlines the expansion and modification of protected areas categories which now include Ramsar sites, biosphere reserves, natural heritage sites and marine parks. This law is under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Environment.7

By the late August of 2020, Cambodia has a total of 76 natural protected areas, which are included in the eight categories.8 More details of the recognized protected areas can be found on the “Natural protected areas” profile page.

Last updated: 26 August 2020

Related to types of state-protected areas


  1. 1. Royal Decree on the Establishment of Protected Areas. 1993.
  2. 2. Ibid.
  3. 3. National Biodiversity Steering Committee, Ministry of Environment. The Fifth National Report To The Convention On Biological Diversity. Phnom Penh: 2014. Accessed July 20, 2015. https://www.cbd.int/doc/world/kh/kh-nr-05-en.pdf
  4. 4. National Biodiversity Steering Committee, Ministry of Environment. National Protected Area System Strategic Management Framework. Phnom Penh: 2014. Accessed July 20, 2015. http://bit.ly/1fZk3uy.
  5. 5. Ibid.
  6. 6. Law on Protected Areas. 2008.
  7. 7. Ibid.
  8. 8. Open Development Cambodia, 2020. “Natural Protected Areas (1993-2020) Dataset”. June 2020. Accessed 26 August 2020. https://data.opendevelopmentcambodia.net/en/dataset/protectedareas
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