After decades of under-investment in the education sector following civil war and the Khmer Rouge genocide, biodiversity conservation in Cambodia was severely hampered by a shortage of trained biologists and reliable biodiversity data, making it difficult to effectively safeguard Cambodia’s rich natural heritage.
Addressing this issue head-on, FFI joined forces with the Royal University of Phnom Penh in 2005 to establish the country’s first masters degree in biodiversity conservation, thereby equipping a new generation of Cambodian scientists with the knowledge base required to ensure a sustainable future for their country.
To date, over 250 Cambodian nationals have benefited from the course, which provides essential vocational training to natural resource management professionals from the NGO and government sectors. Graduates are highly sought after by national and international NGOs and over 73% have gone on to work in conservation or natural resource management where they are directly involved in making and influencing policy decisions.
This groundbreaking initiative has subsequently led to the foundation of a research centre that houses the country’s first and only Zoological Reference Collection and acts as a national hub for postgraduate education, original research into biodiversity, information dissemination and inter-agency collaboration.
As part of FFI’s ongoing efforts to help build up Cambodia’s conservation science resources, we also worked with the Royal University of Phnom Penh to launch the country’s first peer-reviewed scientific journal, the Cambodian Journal of Natural History, first published in 2008.
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Cambodia is one of the most biodiverse countries in Southeast Asia, with as many as 8,260 plant species and more than 250 species of amphibian and reptile, 874 fish species and over 500 bird species.