The climate change-induced hazard of erratic rainfall, which leads to droughts and floods, is limiting agricultural productivity in Cambodia therefore increasing poverty levels. These events are predicted to increase under future climate change scenarios. Rural Cambodian communities living in Protected Areas (PAs) are some of the most vulnerable communities to these impacts. This is because of a high dependence on ecosystem services and lack of alternative, climate change-resilient livelihoods. As a result of decreased agricultural productivity, these communities are increasingly reliant on forest ecosystems primarily to provide food. In addition, forest ecosystems are a source of income for local communities who collect and sell non-timber forest products (NTFPs) and fuel wood. Widespread degradation of forest ecosystems is, however, preventing effective adaptation to erratic rainfall. To increase the resilience of these rural communities living in PAs, the Adaptation Fund (AF) project will use the eco-agriculture concept i.e. “a landscape approach to natural resources management that seeks to sustain agricultural/food production, conserve biodiversity and ecosystems and support local livelihoods”. The eco-agriculture concept will be implemented using two approaches: i) an extensive approach in which degraded forests will be will restored in Community Protected Areas (CPAs) at a landscape-level by planting predominantly indigenous tree species that provide food and are particularly effective at stabilizing soils; and ii) an intensive approach in which interventions will include enrichment planting of the boundary of rice paddies and other cultivated areas to enhance crop productivity, establishing trial plots of drought-tolerant hybrid rice cultivars, as well as intensifying and diversifying the cultivation of existing “homegarden‟ or “chamcar‟ plots.
The overall objective will be achieved through three components:
- planting protocols for ecoagriculture interventions;
- concrete ecoagriculture adaptation interventions; and
- institutional capacity, policy and upscaling of ecoagriculture interventions.
Component 1 will use bio-physical, ecological and socio-economic assessments to develop restoration and conservation agriculture protocols to be implemented in Component 2. This first component is necessary to ensure that the protocols are grounded in a participatory approach and capture indigenous knowledge, as well as being scientifically appropriate for the selected intervention sites.
Component 2 will ensure that the restored forests and productive agricultural areas are sustained and the benefits maximised. Alternative livelihoods established through the AF project will increase the resilience of local communities to the effects of climate change.
Component 3 will create an enabling environment for the ecoagriculture concept to be implemented in other PAs in Cambodia, through awareness raised at a local and national level, and replication of the strategy supported by policy revision where required.