The Ministry of Environment and development partners announced on Tuesday a pilot “Payment for Ecosystem Services” (PES) programme for Phnom Kulen National Park in Siem Reap province and Preah Sihanouk province’s Kbal Chhay area.
The PES programme was unveiled during the “National Dialogue on Payment for Ecosystem Services in Cambodia”, which was attended by 200 participants from relevant international organisations.
The ministry expects to receive $4.10 million in revenue a year from the programme. However, a definitive date for its launch was not announced.
The Ministry of Environment’s Department of Biodiversity director Meng Monireak said the Phnom Kulen area was selected for the programme as it is a crucial natural water source amid a significant rise in demand for water in Siem Reap province.
He said the Kbal Chhay area was Preah Sihanouk province’s most important natural water source and that underground water in the area can be used for public water supplies.
Boeung Prek Tup lake is the second most important water source in the province, he said, adding that it may lose its viability in the future due to a sharp loss in forest cover which reduces rainfall and drastically elevated water demand in the province.
“We must implement the recommendations and decisions for the drafted PES project and implement the laws and regulations which require commercial users to pay an ecosystem service fee for using the water,” said Monireak.
Oum Sony, the policy specialist in Natural Resource Management, Biodiversity and Environment at the UN Development Programme, said a feasibility study showed that the Phnom Kulen National Park’s watershed, scenery, and culture are suitable for ecosystem services.
Four entities are looking to sell the services – the General Department of Administration for Nature Conservation and Protection, the provincial Department of Environment, local communities and Apsara National Authority, said Sony.
Targets for the services include hotels, guesthouses, restaurants, tourist service agents and industries such as drinking water producers, he said. “We expect the Kbal Chhay area to generate between $0.9 and $1.1 million in revenue a year and the Phnom Kulen area between $2.9 and $3.9 million,” Sony said.
Ministry of Environment secretary of state Sao Sopheap said relevant parties must make the necessary efforts to advance the PES pilot programme. Their participation, comments and support are needed for the programme to succeed.
“We must focus on the matter at hand and assess how we’ll implement the programme in the actual context of areas here in Cambodia.
“I call on all who have the experience to provide our country with recommendations. [We] must make a comprehensive roadmap, especially concerning the roles of relevant parties,” he said.