April 18, 2023 — the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed between the AFoCO Secretariat and Cambodia, for the implementation of the project titled: Advancing Restoration of Native Agarwood – Aquilaria crassna and A. malaccensis – for Sustainable Use and Management in Southwestern Cambodia (AFoCO/038/2023). The project sites will be located in Koh Kong, Pursat, Battambang and Pailin.
The native Agarwood species used to be widespread abundant in the forest areas of Southwestern Cambodia, the Cambodian Emerald Wild Agarwood, up until the early 2000s. Two native Agarwood species, Aquilaria crassna, and Aquilaria malaccensis, occurred in the areas. Most of the wild Agarwoods nowadays exist in deep forest areas of Protected Areas (PA) while some remaining regrowth Agarwood are available in Community Forestry sites. Some native Agarwood species have been planted in agricultural lands of local villages, the Family-scale plantations. The two species are classified as endangered species by IUCN Red List, CITES, and national regulations like ministerial order (MAFF, 2005) and primer Sub-Decree No. 53 (RGC5, 2006).
Even though the family-scale native Agarwood plantations have been tried, the owners claimed that their facing challenges are lacks of techniques and skills of getting production from the plantations such as inoculating the trees to form Agarwood resins. The challenges had led to abandonment of the tries, and the native species would be no more exist either on plantations or in the wild of Community Forestry sites. Hence, the project aims to:
- Rehabilitate former Agarwood ecosystems as the country piloting areas
- Raise awareness on advancement of native Agarwood restoration in Southwestern Cambodia
- Establish effectively enabling environment to support the development of family-scale and private sector in native Agarwood species plantations.
Specifically, the project plans to plant a total of 12,500 seedlings in 28ha (monoculture and enrichment planting) and also establish a pilot 2ha plantation of native Agarwood in family scale with private sectors in the provincial sites.
As Parties to the MoU, the MoU was signed by Mr. Keo Omaliss, Director General of the Forestry Administration, Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries of Cambodia and Mr. Jin Sunpil, Vice Executive Director of the Asian Forest Cooperation Organization.
During the congratulatory remark, both sides thanked each other for their effort in the preparation and assistance of the project inception materials and the MoU. Mr. Jin Sunpil remarked that “I am confident that Cambodia will play a very important role as AFoCO continues to take larger tasks in the region to further spread our shared fundamental values, as the number of AFoCO projects grow in Cambodia.”
The Project Inception Meeting (PIM) and the 1st Project Steering Committee (PSC) Meeting will be arranged between the AFoCO Secretariat and the Implementing Agency (IA) of the project in due course to finalize the multi-year matrix and approve the 2023 work and budget plan of the project.