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The Partnership for Forestry and Fishery Community in Cambodia

Learn about how the Partnership for Forestry and Fishery Community in Cambodia helps rural communities to manage their natural resources.
Collecting leaves from the community forest in Preah Vihea Province, Cambodia. Source: RECOFTC
Collecting leaves from the community forest in Preah Vihea Province, Cambodia. Source: RECOFTC


The Partnership for Forestry and Fishery Community in Cambodia helps rural communities to manage their natural resources. It aims to enhance their economic, social and cultural rights through funding opportunities that improve their earnings and their resilience to natural shocks. This involves multi-stakeholder coordination to support interaction between authorities, communities and the private sector for improving knowledge, strengthening capacity and contributing to inclusive development planning.

*This weADAPT article is an abridged version of the original factsheet, which can be downloaded from the right-hand column. Please access the original text for research purposes, full references, and to quote text.


Sixty-five percent of rural Cambodians depend on natural resources such as forests, rivers and lakes for their livelihoods and food security. But most are poor and lack secure land and forest rights, technical capacities and finance required to manage and use these resources sustainably. These natural resources are under threat from unsustainable and illegal natural resource extraction, as well as from economic and social land concessions, hydropower, extractive industries, and roads and other infrastructure.

Cambodia’s regulatory framework offers a solution to these challenges as it allows for communities to establish and democratically operate groups that manage the natural resources of forests or fisheries. The key government-mandated approaches that confer rights to local natural resources are community forests, community fisheries and community protected areas. These approaches align with Cambodia’s ongoing process of decentralizing authority from national to sub-national institutions. By strengthening and securing community rights, they have great potential to reduce poverty while protecting the natural resources on which people’s livelihoods depend.

However, relatively few communities have yet taken advantage of the opportunities that registering a community forest, community fishery or community protected area can offer. The procedures required for formal recognition of one of these community-based approaches are complex. Most communities lack the knowledge, skills, finance and other resources required to manage them. Further challenges come from gaps in the policy, institutional, regulatory and oversight frameworks, particularly those needed to facilitate and oversee the management of investment funds. There is also a widespread lack of capacity among sub-national and local authorities to perform their respective roles.

The Partnership for Forestry and Fishery Community in Cambodia (PaFF) exists to address these issues, focusing on Cambodia’s relatively natural-resource-rich but economically poor northeastern provinces (see figure). The initiative aligns with Cambodia’s national program for community forestry, community fisheries and community protected areas. It also works within the Cambodia National Policy on Green Growth for financing conservation sustainably, and its goal of restoring forest cover to 60 percent of the country’s land area by 2030.

Objectives and Partners

Overall aim/vision:

Rural and indigenous communities and households are empowered to manage and protect their natural resources and secure their economic, social and cultural rights by accessing long-term funding opportunities that contribute to sustained livelihoods and improved resilience to natural shocks.

More specifically, in its third and final phase, PaFF aims to :

  • ensure that communities can exercise their rights to manage, protect and benefit from local natural resources in ways that sustain livelihoods, reduce poverty and increase the resilience of these communities to shocks.
  • strengthen democratic processes, promote the rule of law, and safeguard human rights of women, indigenous groups, and low-income community members through their engagement in community-based natural resource management.

The partnership consists of a consortium of four NGOs, led by the Centre for People and Forests (RECOFTC), the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), the Non-timber Forest Products Exchange Program Asia (NTFP-EP), and the Culture and Environment Preservation Association (CEPA).

RECOFTC Cambodia leads Phase 3, which runs from July 2021 to June 2023.

Approach and strategy

PaFF’s approach creates synergies, outreach and links to national and provincial platforms. They will contribute to stronger interaction between authorities, communities and the private sector in the sustainable use and conservation of forestry and fishery resources. In its third phase, PaFF will continue to strengthen the knowledge of the actors about sustainable NRM in the face of climate change, as well as their capacities to implement policies, ensure the operation of small-scale economic activities and sustainable financing mechanisms.

PaFF operates in four provinces in northeastern Cambodia: Kratie, Stung Treng, Kampong Thom and Preah Vihear. Source: RECOFTC

The PaFF programme aligns with the National Programmes for NRM which aim at a “balance between development and conservation” also mentioned as a target in the National Strategic Development Plan 2019-2023. Moreover, the final phase of SDC support to PaFF will build on the results and lessons learned of the previous two phases and ensure the sustainability and functioning of CBNRM groups to engage with the relevant sub-national administrations and implementation of the community NRM plans. It further responds to the government’s commitments in the climate agenda as spelled out in the green growth initiative for securing sustainable funding sources for conservation (for example by supporting capacity development of government officials, communities and NGOs staff on climate change mitigation and adaptation approaches).


The first and second phases of PaFF successfully supported community forestry and community fisheries groups and networks in Cambodia. This included:

  • capacity development of 370 CBNRM groups to engage in tenure formalization and sustainable NRM, reaching 50,000 households (200,000 people, 50% female and 10% Indigenous People)
  • 86 community groups have developed their NRM plans covering the area of over 100,000 ha
  • 36 credit groups and 14 mini-trust fund groups have supported the implementation of those plans.
  • 35 Community-Based Enterprises were established and are operating under the CBNRM groups.

Furthermore, PaFF supported capacity building of provincial authorities in landscape planning, management and financing, and contributed to NRM reforms.

Key resources

Related resources

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