Skip to the content
Cambodia is biologically one of the richest yet least known countries in the world. Following the dismantling of the science and education sectors during the Pol Pot era, this nation’s ability to manage its natural wealth has been severely hampered by a lack of skilled people and biological information.
In response, Fauna & Flora International (FFI) helped the Royal University of Phnom Penh to establish an innovative project to arm a new generation of scientists with essential knowledge and experience in conservation biology and sustainable development.
The Masters of Science course in Biodiversity Conservation was launched in 2005, and over 120 Cambodians have enrolled to date. The course provides students with a firm grounding in conservation theory and ecology, project management and strategic planning skills, and experience in field research, data analysis and presentation. Many of the students are ‘in-service’ government and NGO staff, who are ideally placed to apply their new knowledge and skills to their daily work.
Linked to the postgraduate course, botanical and zoological reference collections were established at the university in 2007. These have become important assets for cataloguing Cambodia’s little known biodiversity, and are helping to reverse the pattern of biological material being deposited in museums overseas, which few Cambodian scholars can afford to visit.
Alongside this, the project launched the Cambodian Journal of Natural History in 2008, the country’s first scientific periodical of its kind. Shortly after, the project team also created an interdisciplinary research group which undertakes much-needed studies on lesser known taxa and contemporary conservation issues within Cambodia.
Looking forward, activities are underway to consolidate all of these initiatives under the Centre for Biodiversity Conservation at the university. This is necessary to ensure the advanced training, research and dissemination will continue for as long as the country needs them.
“This MSc greatly improved my understanding of conservation problems and how solutions can be found for these in Cambodia.”
Research Coordinator, Conservation International
Cambodia is biologically one of the richest countries yet least known countries in the world. Following the dismantling of the science and education sectors during the Pol Pot era, this nation’s ability to manage its natural wealth has been severely hampered by a lack of skilled people and biological information.