The government and international donors on March 24 launched the Legacy Landscape Fund for the Central Cardamom Mountains National Park. The fund aims to improve the management of the protected area.

The project is a joint initiative by the German government, German bank KfW, the French Development Agency and Conservation International.

According to the project’s website, the Central Cardamom Mountains National Park provides critical habitats to over 400 vertebrate species, 70 fish species, and over 200 plant species, many of which are endemic to this region.

It functions as a vital watershed for Cambodia, accounting for an estimated 30 per cent of the dry season freshwater flow to the Tonle Sap Lake, Southeast Asia’s most important inland fishery.

It said widespread poverty among local communities is a main driver for increased pressure on the park, including the unsustainable exploitation of natural resources.

“For this reason, livelihood programs for local communities are a key focus area of the park management and its international and national partners. Long-term conservation efforts are needed, given that Cambodia is ranked as one of the countries that are most vulnerable to the impact of climate change,” the project added.

Speaking at the launch event, Minister of Environment Say Samal said that peace, political stability and a stable economy have allowed Cambodians to reduce their dependency on natural resources, and provided more employment opportunities, enabling them to focus more on public health and the protection of biodiversity and the environment.

“The minister expects the new fund to become a model for green financing and all conservation projects, and that it will improve the livelihoods of the communities that are in and around the Kingdom’s protected areas,” said the environment ministry.