“The Oddar Meanchey REDD project model is centered on local people’s participation in forest management,” said Ty Sokhun, head of Cambodia’s Forestry Administration in 2009. Five years later logging is rampant in the project area. Local people and the project developers are powerless to stop it. The Cambodian government does not seem interested.
The Cambodian military has been clearing forest in the area of the Thai border, including inside the Oddar Meanchey REDD project’s community forest areas, for several years.
A US-based company called Terra Global Capital is marketing the carbon credits, but so far no carbon credits have been sold from the project. Terra Global Capital is now in a difficult position. Without funding the project can do nothing to stop the destruction of the community forests. Funding was supposed to come from the sale of carbon credits. But how can Terra Global Capital sell carbon credits from the project when the forest is being cleared?
The NGO Pact had been paying community forest members to patrol the forest areas, but last year the money ran out. Forest patrols have stopped. In January 2014, Sarah Sitts of Pact told the Cambodia Daily that she hoped the Cambodian government would stop the deforestation:
“Pact hopes the Cambodian government will help ensure these forests, that have community forest tenure, are protected.”
Which amounts to hoping that the fox guarding the hen house will stop eating the hens.
In a 2009 report about the project, Pact wrote that,
Since the project launch in January 2008, the [Forest Authority’s site verification and enforcement] team was able to crack down on forest clearings by military, prevented military base construction in several different CFs and solved six incidents of illegal logging and land encroachment. Solution of these problems – which in and of themselves illustrate the Government’s commitment to the project – clears the way for the process to move forward.
The optimism may have been well-founded in 2009. But by 2012 it was little more than wishful thinking, as these photographs of military clearing of community forests in Oddar Meanchey demonstrate.
The photographs were sent to REDD-Monitor by Shalmali Guttal of Focus on the Global South.