Improving Community Resilience and Biodiversity Conservation from the Sale of Carbon Credits

The Experience of the Keo Seima REDD+ Project in Cambodia

By Sothira Seng , Dan Whyner , Sreyleak Leng

The USAID Mission in Cambodia (USAID/Cambodia) plays a major role in addressing environmental problems, such as climate change, through its financial support to local and international non-governmental organizations. Since 2012, USAID/Cambodia has supported the implementation of the Keo Seima Wildlife Sanctuary “Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation” (KSWS REDD+) Project. This project is the largest carbon emissions reduction program in the country and aims to reduce not only carbon emissions in support of the Paris Climate Agreement, but also to improve the conservation and sustainable management of forests and wildlife while increasing benefits to community livelihoods and resilience. 

Deforestation is one of the major factors contributing to climate change worldwide. Cambodia has experienced some of the world’s highest deforestation rates since the 1970s with rapid increases over the past decade. From 2001 to 2018, Cambodia lost 557,000 hectares of forests including in protected areas, representing a 11.7 percent reduction in tree cover. This loss has adversely impacted biodiversity conservation, and has had detrimental social and economic effects on indigenous peoples who depend on these forests. The KSWS REDD+ Project, implemented by USAID/Cambodia’s partner, Wildlife Conservation Society, works in eastern Cambodia’s Mondulkiri Province to reverse these troubling trends by financing the preservation of over half of the Keo Seima Wildlife Sanctuary through carbon credit sales.

Black Duc in Keo Seima Wildlife Sanctuary. Credit: WCS

Black Duc in Keo Seima Wildlife Sanctuary..