For several generations, the natural resources in this landscape have provided livelihoods to various communities who live within and around it, particularly indigenous ethnic groups who are stewards of their land.
Within the EPL, the protected areas of Mondulkiri Province support more than 41 species of global significance and harbour a diverse assemblage of megafauna in Southeast Asia, including Cambodia’s largest population of Asian elephants, a breeding population of the extremely rare Siamese crocodile, the world’s largest population of banteng and Cambodia’s last remaining critically endangered Indochinese leopards. This area also supports more than 334 bird species, including at least 14 listed by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature as globally threatened. The EPL has also been considered as a potential location to restore tiger population in the Cambodia Tiger Action Plan (April 2016).
There are 15 mining licenses across the landscape, which is already being chipped away by economic land concessions and other forms of habitat loss. With mining comes pollution, infrastructure from transmission lines and access roads, extraction machinery and buildings, in-migration from workers and other impacts.
WWF does not support mining or any other infrastructural development projects inside protected areas. However we also recognise that if done responsibly and with no net loss of biodiversity, mining can bring significant benefits to the country, potentially providing a solution to poverty as an engine of economic and social development.
The EPL is a national pride. There are other options for sustainable development that do not require devastating the landscape with a patchwork of mining concessions. To protect this biodiversity hotspot, WWF is:
- Reintroducing tigers to the Srepok Wildlife Sanctuary
- Supporting businesses and communities in sustainable supply chains and financing mechanisms of commodities such as pepper, rubber or cassava
- Encouraging communities to adopt alternative livelihoods to provide sustainable sources of income and reduce pressure on natural resources
- Empowering civil society organisations and strengthening community participation in forest governance through inclusive policy dialogues and natural resources conservation to secure land rights and improve their socio-economic status
- Monitoring biodiversity to provide data on species population trends and habitat use