Hidden treasures

Cambodia is one of the most biodiverse countries in Southeast Asia, with as many as 8,260 plant species (10% of which may be endemic) along with more than 250 species of amphibian and reptile, 874 fish species and over 500 bird species.

Of particular interest to conservationists is a 10,000km2 area in the south-west of the country known as the Cardamom Mountain Landscape, which harbours a remarkable diversity of species including elephants, bears and gaur (the world’s largest bovine). Still relatively unexplored, this landscape has many secrets left to reveal, and new species are regularly discovered by biologists surveying its forests.

Cambodia also has a rich marine environment, with coral reefs surrounding almost all of its islands. Around 70 coral species are known to be found here, and the country also has extensive seagrass beds and mangrove habitats.

Like many other countries in the region, Cambodia faces the challenge of developing its economy and reducing poverty without ravaging its unique natural resources – a challenge made more difficult by restricted financial and technical capacity for sustainable environmental management.

As a result, forest cover in Cambodia has fallen by 20% since 1990, while destructive fishing practices – such as the use of explosives and poison – together with unsustainable developments are wreaking havoc on its marine environment.

Cambodia facts
Country in Asia-Pacific

Size (land & water):

181,035 km²

Population (2016 est.):

15,957,223

GDP per capita (2016 est.):

US$3,700

Cambodia is located in Southeast Asia. It is bordered by Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and the Gulf of Thailand.

20%

of Cambodia’s forests have been lost since 1990.

88%

of people in Cambodia depend on fisheries for their livelihoods.

Our work to protect Cambodia’s biodiversity

Fauna & Flora International (FFI) has been working in Cambodia for more than 20 years, supporting the government’s conservation work across the country, and was one of the first international conservation organisations on the ground following years of conflict.

Our scientists joined early expeditions into the Cardamom Mountains after remnants of the Khmer Rouge finally left the area and we were instrumental in rediscovering the Siamese crocodile, which was thought to be extinct in the wild. Following this discovery, we spearheaded a community-based conservation programme to conserve these reptiles.

Our field activities focus on community engagement and empowerment, food security, biodiversity monitoring and research with the aim of conserving critical forest and marine habitat and protecting flagship species of global importance such as Siamese crocodiles and Asian elephants. At a national level, we are working to stop illegal wildlife trade in Cambodia, focusing on bushmeat, ivory and marine products. We have also partnered with the Royal University of Phnom Penh to develop the next generation of Cambodian conservationists.

The combined output of all these interventions is strengthening biodiversity conservation while building good governance and alleviating poverty.