Towards Reforestation in Cambodia: the development of guidelines for establishing and registering private forests

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Khmer version available HERE.

Background

The Royal Government of Cambodia, as stated in the Forestry Law, has encouraged participatory tree planting by local communities and private sector entities in particular, through the promotion of “private forest registration”. In 2017, the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries issued a Prakas on the “Private Forest Rules” defining the scope, requirements and procedures in the private forest registration process in Cambodia. The declaration aims to incentivize natural persons or juridical persons who are landowners to plant trees on their private land to increase the supply of timber and non-timber forest products from tree plantations for domestic consumption and export. To achieve the overarching goal of the declaration, the Forestry Administration, Dr. Ly Mengseang (Director of the Department of Private Forest and Forest Plantation Development) initiated the development of the Guidelines on “Establishment and Registration of Private Forests in Cambodia” in 2018. Notwithstanding, the consultations with legal entities under the Forestry Administration, both national and sub-national, to obtain inputs for the development of this guideline are not comprehensive owing to limited resources.

By the end of 2019, the Department of Private Forest and Forest Plantation Development in collaboration with the project “Integrating the Development of Guidelines and Incentives for Piloting the Establishment of Small-scale Private Dalbergia Plantations with the Determination of a Non-detriment Findings Report in Preah Vihear Province, Cambodia” funded by the European Union through the Secretariat of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) and the project “The registration of small-scale private forest plantation in Cambodia” funded by the Government of the Republic of Korea through AFoCO, initiated and encouraged the preparation of this guideline in order to promote the implementation process and encourage private forest registration in Cambodia. In particular, mobilizing more participation from the private sector (private companies and farmers) has been focused. The process of developing this guideline has organized several consultation meetings and workshops at both the national and sub-national levels, with face-to-face and online meetings with the participation of the private sector, FA officials, researchers, and non-governmental organizations involved in forestry development.

Consultation and Documentation Workshop on Guidelines for Establishment and Registration of Private Forests, 26-27 November 2020
Understanding the Guidelines for Establishing and Registering Private Forests

In the Guidelines on Private Forest Registration in Cambodia, “Private forests are defined as plantations or trees that grow naturally on land that is registered and privately-owned under state valid procedures and laws. Private forest refers to plantation established by natural persons or private legal entities who own land on their private land with the right to occupy in accordance with the land law and are registered as private forest according to the regulations of the Forestry Law and the Prakas No. 327 PRK dated 26 May 2017 on the Private Forest Rule.”

“The Guidelines will guide landowners or legal entities who wish to register their private forests understand the process of establishing and registering private forests, equip them with knowledge and skills in managing private forest plantations, and provide information on the benefits they may receive from the Government.

Mr. Kim Sobon, Deputy Director of the Department of Private Forest and Forest Plantation Development, and project officer of the Private Plantation Registration Project in Cambodia, at the Consultation and Documentation Workshop

Mr. Sobon further noted that Cambodia has the goal of maintaining at least 50% of its land under forest cover to contribute to the country’s Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. In pursuit of this ambitious goal, the Forestry Administration has identified degraded forests and other degraded lands that are available for restoration and introduced initiatives for investing in the establishment of private forest plantations on state land by forging partnerships between various private sector entities.

The Guidelines on Private Forest Registration consist of four chapters. The first provides a context by presenting critical information on the definition of private forests, as well as on supporting legislation, and eligibility. The second elaborates on the process applicants have to follow to register their private tree plantations. The third provides technical instructions on the development of plans for establishing private plantations. The fourth focuses on the harvesting of the trees that have been grown on private land, as well as on mechanisms for the monitoring and tracking of the produced wood by local Forestry Administration units.

“Private forest owners who have registered plantations on private land as a forest The private sector has the right to maintain, develop, use, sell and distribute its products. The transportation of wood products originating from private forests to supply customers or the local market does not require a license permit (LP).”

Mr. Chhong Tol, Chief of Private Forest and Partnership Office, at the Consultation and Documentation Workshop
Practical Procedures for Registering Private Forests

Under the guidelines, private forest plantations are categorized by area, each of which is distinguished by its own application form and place of submission.
There are four categories of private forest forests, as follows:

  • Household private forest plantations that consist of land areas of less than 10 hectares. The application form and the hard copies of associated documents under this category shall be submitted to the Forestry Administration Cantonment in the province where the private forest plantation is to be established;
  • Small-scale private forest plantations that consist of land areas that range from 10 to 100 hectares. The application form and the hard copies of associated documents under this category shall be submitted to the Provincial Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries in the province where the private forest plantation is to be established;
  • Medium-scale private forest plantations that consist of land areas that range from 100 to 1,000 hectares. The application form and the hard copies of associated documents under this category shall be submitted to the Forestry Administration at the central level in Phnom Penh; and
  • Large-scale private forest plantations that consist of land areas that are greater than 1,000 hectares. The application form and the hard copies of associated documents under this category shall be submitted to the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries in Phnom Penh.
Inter-departmental meeting on Guidelines for Establishing and Registering Private Forests in Cambodia, 14 January 2021