Cambodia is rich in biodiversity, and its world-renowned cultural heritage has been built on its natural heritage. The Northern region of Cambodia includes Angkor Wat and the surrounding monuments, which have been recognized as World Heritage due to their outstanding universal value are considered the largest assemblage of monuments globally. Angkorian Kings chose sites rich in resources to plan and construct an integrated complex of temples with water management at its core with good advice from sage scholars,. Historically, Angkor shows significant hydrological structures for water management dating back 500-900 years. Monuments have been built in locations rich in natural resources and created dynamic socio-ecological production landscapes. Ancient Angkorian water engineering shows a significant appreciation of the importance of water management as part of a sustainable production landscape and, as such, may provide significant lessons for modern integrated landscape management.
The northern landscapes of Cambodia effectively provided the staple diet of rice and fish to hundreds of thousands of people, which allowed Khmer culture to thrive. The significance of the agricultural and fisheries sectors in Cambodia is undisputed, and as such, water is a priority for consideration in landscape management. We have a historical production landscape that should provide positive lessons, however, Cambodia’s strong wet and dry season variances and reliance on the water, make it especially vulnerable to climate change. Surrounding forest and non-timber forest products have been valuable resources that play a significant role, but it is the role of water that is culturally and socio-economically most significant. The interrelationships between natural resources such as forests and water have a long history, and there seem to be ebbs and flows in forest cover based on human use in the past. There has been rapid degradation and loss of natural resources over the past 10 years; however, Cambodia still maintains significant natural resources and significant forests.
This project aims to promote integrated natural resource management to ensure the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity, natural resources, and ecosystems in the northern region of Cambodia. The intent is to generate multiple landscape benefits, including effective conservation of globally threatened species and high conservation forests, improve management of natural resources and ensure the maintenance of ecosystem services. INRM specifically aims to improve the management of protected areas by ensuring their financial stability, enhancing the northern region of Cambodia and the productivity of agricultural lands, and improving local livelihoods, all while utilizing water catchments from the northern landscape as a catalyst. By addressing threats to biodiversity and ecosystem services, INRM will harmonize socio-economic development, sustainable management of land, and natural resource and biodiversity conservation through an integrated management approach. Specific focus to strengthen policies and institutional capacity at the national and sub-national levels will ensure the integration of biodiversity and ecosystem services in the sector and socio-economic planning. Working at a landscape level will help ensure the conservation of species by establishing connectivity with a network of habitats and ecosystems.