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Risk Tool

COUNTRY PRODUCTION STATUS Cambodia’s forest cover amounts to 9.4 million hectares, which represents 54% of the total land area of 18.1 million ha).1,2 To find out more, click here.

LAWS The 2002 Law on Forestry provides for the management, use, harvesting, conservation and development of all forests (planted or natural) within the Kingdom of Cambodia. It is made up of 18 chapters that are subdivided into 109 separate articles. Read more here.

TRANSPARENCY Information on transparency and governance indicators can be found here.

CITES Cambodia became a party to CITES in 1997.  

CONTACTS AND ORGANIZATIONS Several industry associations, civil society, and government agencies work on forest related issues in Cambodia. Their profile and contact information are found here.

Last updated: October 2016


Global Forest Resources Assessment FAO (2015),

The FAO define forest cover as “land spanning more than 0.5 hectares with trees higher than 5 meters and a canopy cover of more than 10 percent, or trees able to reach these thresholds in situ. It does not include land that is predominantly under agricultural or urban land use.”  Forest Resources Assessment, Terms and Definitions, 2015.

Forest Resources

Resources Overview

According to the Global Forest Resource Assessment report by FAO (2015), Cambodia’s forest cover1,2 amounts to 54% or 9,457,000 ha of the country. With a 3% loss of primary forest cover since 2010 and a 1.3% loss of total forest cover, Cambodia has one of the highest deforestation rates worldwide.3 Cambodian forests are in a state of significant decline due to land use change, forest degradation through logging, forest fires, land-grabbing and encroachment agriculture.4 96% of the forest area is categorized as naturally regenerated forest. The remaining 3.4% are primary forests and a few plantations (0.7%). Three main types of forest are found in Cambodia: relatively open deciduous forest; generally closed semi-deciduous forest; and evergreen closed forest. The first covers the largest area, the second is the richest in timber, while the third represents an eco-floristic type unique in Southeast Asia.5

For information on commercially important species please see Forest Production.


FAO (2015), FRA terms and definitions

The amount of forest area referenced here relies on the UN FAO definition of forests, since the FAO definition is one of the world’s most widely used standards for measuring and reporting forest area at the country level. The FAO forest definition, however, has been criticized because it captures monoculture plantations and includes areas designated as forest land-use, even when those areas are un-stocked with trees at the time of measuring forest area. It should also be noted that the FAO definition counts areas with 10% or more canopy cover as forests (in addition to other criteria). By comparison, for example, Global Forest Watch sets its default tree cover canopy analysis tool at 30 % canopy cover. For more information on this issue, see the FAO’s Global Forest Resources Assessment website, in addition to this open letter signed by civil society organizations from around the world, as well as these articles by Vidal et. al.Mather and Mathews and Grainger.

Global Forest Resources Assessment FAO (2015),

Mongabay (2014),

Brief on National Forest Inventory, Cambodia, FAO (2007)

Naturally Occurring
Teak Merbau Black pine podocarp
Rubber Tree
Forest Resources

About Forest Resources

This section provides an overview of the country's forest cover and a list of species found naturally and on plantations.

Forest Management

Management Overview

After the signing of the Paris Peace Accords in 1992, Cambodia’s forests were subject to heavy logging.1 In 2002, Cambodia’s remaining logging concessions were suspended and the Royal Government of Cambodia (RGC) announced that timber harvesting would be managed primarily for the domestic market2, ostensibly through a series of annual coupes as outlined in the new Law on Forestry (August 2002).3

Annual Bidding Coupes (ABCs) are regulated by the Forest Administration under the Forestry Law. In theory, ABCs are implemented in order to assure that local wood demand can be met, but in practice, limited supply is available.4 ABCs do not allow for direct conversion of forests, but do include management planning and forest management requirements. Divisions within the Forest Administration conduct inventories, tree-marking and social and environmental impact assessments for annual coupes and prepare one-year management plans. As of 2009 the Forest Administration had issued three bidding coupe management plans to three separate companies covering, in total, 5000 hectares. More up to date information is not available.5 However, the Royal Government of Cambodia in The National Forest Programme report 2010 – 20296 stated that “effective, transparent management and monitoring of annual bidding coupes will be reviewed, developed and implemented to ensure compliance with ecological, economic and social standards. A mechanism for a transparent and consultative process will also be developed to identify areas for annual bidding coupes”.

The cancellation of the remaining logging concessions in 2002  coincided with increased domestic and foreign investment in agri-industrial projects for the planting of crops such as rubber and cassava, with some interest in sugar, wood and oil palm plantations in 2003.7 The planting of these crops requires an economic land concession (ELC), a long-term lease that allows a concessionaire to clear land in order to develop industrial-scale agriculture, which can be granted for various activities including large-scale plantations, raising animals, and building factories to process agricultural products.8 Rapid acceleration in the allocation of ELCs followed9, and now of the total annual timber production in Cambodia, only less than 10% originates from Annual Bidding Coupes, whereas ELCs now account for more than 80% of the timber.10

These land concessions provided several actors with an entry point (and possibly a cover) to conduct extensive logging operations not only within but also outside the borders of the officially granted ELC areas.11 In 2012, Cambodian Prime Minister, Hun Sen, declared a moratorium on new economic land concessions12,13, but ELCs that were already in the approval process continued to be approved after the moratorium. According to the Phnom Penh Post (2012), the Cambodian government continued to grant 35,000 hectares (86,400 acres) of economic land concessions to four companies: Khun Sea Import Export received 8,200 hectares (20,200 acres) in Kulen Promtep Wildlife Sanctuary; A2A Town (Cambodia) Co Ltd received 9,668 hectares (23,890 acres) in Kirirom National Park; Lim Royal Joint Company  received 9,068 hectares (22,407 acres) in Phnom Prich Wildlife Sanctuary; and the Roath Sokhorn Company  received 9,000 hectares (22,200 acres) in Lumphat Wildlife Sanctuary.14

In 2013, 272 land concession agreements covering 14% of the nation (2,539,690 ha) were recorded by civil society organizations.15 These concessions have an average area of 9,584 ha each.16

According to the 2014 NEPCon report, LICADHO (a Cambodian NGO) and other civil society organizations have documented that a total of 546,971 ha (about 21%) of these land concessions are allocated within protected areas, largely under the responsibility of the Ministry of Environment (MOE) although three concessions are located in the Seima Protection Forest under the responsibility of the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (MAFF).17,18 The remaining 1,992,719 ha is allocated to lands under, or formerly under, the responsibility of the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (MAFF).19 Open Development Cambodia20 (an open data collection website for South East Asia) has developed a data set of ELCs in Cambodia, which was updated in 2016.

Media and civil society reports (Global Witness and the Phnom Penh Post)21,22 indicate sawmills were set up within the boundaries of protected areas, logging crews were employed, and some timber was even brought in from distant areas by outsiders. Operations allegedly continued until all valuable timber resources in the wider vicinity of the area were exhausted.23

The allocation of forested areas to land concessions has become highly controversial and, together with illegally harvested and subsequently laundered timber from nearby areas, is believed by many to be the major source of timber in Cambodia today.24


Transparency International’s (TI) Corruption Perception Index (CPI) measures perceived levels of public-sector corruption, on a scale of 0-100 (0 = 100% corruption and 100 = no corruption).  For 2015, Cambodia scored 21 out of 100 on the Corruption Perception Index25, which indicates a high level of corruption in the country. It ranked 150 out of 167 countries.  In 2014, it ranked 156 out of 175 countries and scored 21 out of 100, so there seems to be little improvement.26

Overall, Transparency International characterizes Cambodia as a country with a weak national integrity system27, but with signs of transformation in the right direction, for example Transparency International found the role and capacity of Civil Society to be strong and well grounded.28 TI recommends prioritizing judicial reform and providing greater access to information to address the underlying weaknesses across the national integrity system.

The results of the CPI are supported by the World Bank’s set of Worldwide Governance Indicators (WGI) for all world economies. These indicators are important barometers in terms of risk assessment. The WGI country reports are based on the six following aggregate governance indicators: Voice and Accountability, Political Stability and Absence of Violence, Government Effectiveness, Regulatory Quality, Rule of Law, and Control of Corruption. Countries are ranked (percentile rank model) for each of the six governance indicators on a scale from 0 to 100 where 0 corresponds to lowest rank and 100 corresponds to highest rank (better governance).

In 2014, Cambodia scored 17.7 in Voice and Accountability; 44.7 in Political Stability and Absence of Violence; 25.5 in Government Effectiveness; 37 in Regulatory Quality; 17.3 in Rule of Law; and 12.5 in Control of Corruption.29 These figures are all indications that governance in Cambodia still needs significant improvement.

In August 2015 the Cambodian government passed the controversial Law on Association and Non-Governmental Organizations (LANGO).30 The law could be used to effectively stop the ability of NGOs to freely criticize government policies or public officials. It creates mandatory registration requirements for informal and grassroots organizations and NGOs, and gives the government the ability to disallow registration based on unclear criteria.  The United Nations and US Ambassador William Todd have also expressed deep concerns about the legislation, earning heavy criticism from the Cambodian government in the process.31

It is reported by international NGOs (such as the EIA and Global Witness) that rangers, journalists and environmental activists are being murdered in Cambodia for trying to tackle or report on illegal logging.32,33 There have been multiple victims from a wide spectrum of society, one of which was reported by EIA in November 2015.34,35


Forest Trends (2015)

FAO (2010),

Forest Trends (2015): Conversion Timber, Forest Monitoring, and Land-Use Governance in Cambodia    

NEPCon (2014)

NEPCon (2014)

The Royal Government of Cambodia, National Forest Programme, 2010 – 2029.

Forest Trends (2015)

NEPCon (2014), Forest Land Conversion and Conversion Timber Estimates: Cambodia Case Study,

NEPCon (2014), Forest Land Conversion and Conversion Timber Estimates: Cambodia Case Study,

10 NEPCon (2014), Forest Land Conversion and Conversion Timber Estimates: Cambodia Case Study,

11 Open Development Cambodia on Economic Land Concessions (2016)  

12 Phnom Penh Post (2012),

13 Through ‘Order 01BB on Measures for Strengthening and Increasing the Effectiveness of the Management of Economic Land Concessions’

14 Phnom Penh Post (2012),

15 NEPCon (2014), Forest Land Conversion and Conversion Timber Estimates: Cambodia Case Study,

16 NEPCon (2014), Forest Land Conversion and Conversion Timber Estimates: Cambodia Case Study,

17 NEPCon (2014), Forest Land Conversion and Conversion Timber Estimates: Cambodia Case Study,

18 Assessment of Drivers of Deforestation and  Forest Degradation in the Seima Protected Forest  (2010-2014)

19 Forest Trends, 2015,

20 Open Development Cambodia on Economic Land Concessions (2016)

21 Phnom Penh Post (2016),

22 Global Witness (2015), The Cost of Luxury,

23 Forest Trends (2015)

24 Lambrick (2016),

25 Transparency International (2015), Corruption Perception Index 2015

26 Transparency International (2014),

27 Transparency International defines this as the country not being strong enough to uphold the rule of law, ensure sustainable development and a good quality of life for the population at large. A full report can be found

28 Transparency International (2014)

29 World Bank (2015),

30 ICNL (2016)

31 Radio Free Asia (2015),

32 Global Witness (2014)

33 Asian Correspondent (2016),

34 EIA (2015):

35 EIA (2014): Routes of Extinction: The Corruption and Violence Destroying Siamese Rosewood in the Mekong

Forest Management

About Forest Management

This section provides an overview of the country's forest management, transparency indicators, CITES Agreement information as it applies to the country, and relevant laws and regulations (i.e. forestry laws, processing/manufacturing laws, trade laws, tax laws, and transport laws).

Forest Products

Production Status

According to the 2015 Global Forest Assessment report,1 Cambodia has 3.374 million ha of natural production forest,2 3.092 million ha of protection forest and 69,000 ha of industrial timber plantations. There is over 320,000 ha of primary forest in Cambodia, with almost 96% of the forest cover being other naturally regenerated forests (9.066 million ha).

According to the ITTO Status of Tropical Forest Management report (2011) no part of the Permanent Forest Estate (PFE) for production purposes is considered to be under sustainable management, and there is insufficient information available to estimate the area of PFE managed sustainably for protection purposes. The government imposed a logging moratorium in 20023 due to high rates of illegal logging in the 1990s. At that point the Forest Administration closed and/ or destroyed 1,351 illegal sawmills and 653 small wood-processing plants.4 As a result of the moratorium, commercial logging declined, export wood industry products dropped to zero, and most of the production forestry concession agreements were cancelled by 2006. All remaining logging concessions were reduced to 3.4 million ha of the PFE in 2011, and were required to submit management plans. Although the moratorium on logging is still in place (as of September 2016), the Forest Administration issued three bidding coupe management plans5 to three separate companies covering 5000 hectares in total in 20096, with the primary aim of meeting domestic wood needs.7

Although the forestry sector plays an important role for the country, the actual value to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has been significantly reduced by the moratorium. The 2014 State of the World’s Forest (SOWF) report estimates that the total gross added value for the forest sector in Cambodia generates US$390 million dollars, contributing 3.2% to the GDP, and employing about 7,000 people, or 0.1% of the labor force. However, the FAO Global Forest Assessments 2015 reports gross added value from forestry in 2011 as US$340,000, significantly smaller than the 2014 SOWF report. According to the Council for the Development of Cambodia, in 2011 Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries combined made up 32% of the country’s GDP, with forestry’s Gross Value Added (GVA) at 1.1%.8

Illegal logging in Cambodia is significant. A report by Global Witness (GW), The Cost of Luxury, published in February 20159, outlines an 8 month undercover investigation by GW into the multi-million dollar black-market trade in illegal logs across Cambodia as a result of China’s demand for rosewood Hongmu furniture. One particular Cambodian company was investigated, and details given as to how, in GW’s opinion, their undertakings should not be considered legal until proven otherwise. Recommendations were given to the government of Cambodia, the government of China, the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region authorities and to CITES as to what could be done to reduce the illegal trading of rosewood. Another NGO report from EIA, Routes of Extinction: The corruption and violence destroying Siamese rosewood in the Mekong (2014), details the findings of EIA’s investigations into the Siamese rosewood trade in recent years, including in the year since the CITES listing (2013) and the publication of the report (2014). It concludes that it is likely that Siamese rosewood will become commercially, if not biologically extinct in the coming years, unless significant and rapid reforms are made.

According to FAO data, Cambodia exported 73,629m3 of sawnwood in 2014.10 In 2015, Forest Trends reported that Cambodia was the 10th largest supplier of logs, and 8th largest supplier of sawnwood to China. China received 92% of its tropical hardwood from Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and Thailand.11 Statistics from the Cambodian Government (taken from Global Witness 2015 report The Cost of Luxury) indicate that demand for Cambodian timber (from both domestic and export markets) is growing fast; in 2008 it was 262,511m3, in 2013 it had grown by 20% to 318,385m3 and is predicted to grow a further 12% to 358,939m3, by 2018. Cambodia’s main trade in timber is with China, Thailand and Vietnam, as well as Laos, Russia, Malaysia, and Japan.  According to the Global Witness 2015 report, 85% of Cambodia’s timber exports are destined for China and the volume of Hongmu logs exported there grew by 150 % between 2013 and 2014.

Forest products in Cambodia include roundwood, sawnwood, veneer, plywood, wood-based panels, pulp and paper, and non-wood forest products such as rattan, rubber, bamboo and resin. In 2014, Cambodia’s total timber exports were worth an estimated $404 million USD. This was made up of sawnwood ($262 million), rough wood ($127 million) and plywood ($6.7 million). Cambodia exports all rough wood to China, but only 5.3% of sawn wood (worth $13.8 million USD). The main importer of Cambodian sawnwood is Vietnam (93% or $244 million), though it isn’t clear if the wood is then exported again to China as Vietnam is also a large exporter in its own right (57% of Vietnam’s sawn wood was exported to China in the same year).12 The 2011 ITTO report, “Status of Tropical Forest Management” state that commonly harvested species for industrial roundwood include Dipterocarpus alatusAnisoptera glabra, Sindora coshinchinensisTarrietia javanica and Parinarium annaamensis.13

In recent years the rise in trade of luxury tree species such as Siamese rosewood (Dalbergia cochinchinensis) has become increasingly significant.14 The Cambodian Forestry law banned the logging of rare tree species in 2002 and the Prime Minister issued a directive to prevent the transport and sale of Dalbergia cochinchinensis in 201315. According to the Cambodia Daily16, the government has yet to produce the sub-decree naming which rare tree species would be banned (though there apparently is a list available that was written in 2000, which includes thnong (Pterocarpus macrocarpus Kurz), neang nuon (Dalbergia oliveri) and kra nhoung (Siamese rosewood)). An EIA report (2014)17 also stated that between 2000 and 2014, an estimated 1.6 million cubic meters of rosewood valued at US$2.4 million came from the Mekong region (Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, Thailand and Myanmar). According to the report, the policy of the Cambodian government was to auction the seized species (which was usually purchased by illegal traders anyway). This assessment of the scale of the rosewood issue is supported by the 2015 Global Witness report “The Cost of Luxury: Cambodia's illegal trade in precious wood with China” which also suggests the trade in rosewood is increasing from Cambodia, as export documents18 have been found for timber worth US$ 5.6 million.  ITTO reported in 2014 that in the most recent data released by the Chinese imports authority, the average price of importing ‘Hongmu’ species (such as Siamese rosewood) rose by 11%. Of these imports, 65% came from SE Asia. There is now concern regarding the ‘cascading’ nature of the rosewood trade. As demand from within China remains high, the market is shifting to lesser-value species such as Burmese padauk (Pterocarpus macrocarpus), and African Pterocarpus species, as Siamese rosewood (D. cochinchinensis) becomes commercially extinct. According to Forest Trends (2015), China reported a 700% increase in African rosewood log imports since 2010. Many NGO’s are calling for these lower-value species to also be listed on CITES.19 At the CITES COP17 held in October 2016, two important changes were made as a result of these concerns. It was agreed that the genus Dalbergia (rosewood) would be included in CITES Appendix II (except the species included in Appendix I). Furthermore, the listing for Siamese rosewood (D. cochinchinensis) was amended to include all parts and derivatives (including furniture) with some exceptions.20

Besides timber harvest, non-timber forest products (NTFPs) are collected by the local communities for domestic use as well as for export. Bamboo, resin and rattan are the most commonly NTFP’s harvested.21According to a recent Forest Trends report (2015) 1.1 million hectares of concession land was awarded to rubber plantations, 150,000 hectares for sugar and 100,000 hectares for pulp and paper. The report highlights that it is important to acknowledge that the use of the concessions for this purpose hasn’t been verified, it outlines that rubber plantations may be a key driver of conversion timber and deforestation.22

A 2014 study by NEPCon shows as much as 90% of Cambodian timber production originates from forest conversion.  Principal conversion-timber sources in Cambodia include Economic Land Concessions (ELCs) and infrastructure developmental projects, as well as illegal logging related to conversion projects. The study clarifies that the contribution of migrant encroachment and clearance is unclear. Considering that significant areas of forest have been signed off under ELC agreements, but have not yet been cleared, timber production (and the resulting deforestation) from ELCs is expected to increase further in the coming years.23

Commercially important species

Commonly harvested species for industrial roundwood include Chhetiel (Dipterocarpus sp), Doon Chaem (Tarrietia javanica), Phdeik (Anisoptera sp), Sralao (Lagerstroemia sp), Krakoh (Sindora siamensis), Sway (Magnifera indica) and Deum Kor (Ceiba petandra). The luxury grade species of Beng (Afzelia xylocarpa), Kra Nhoung (Dalbergia cochinchinensis), Neang Nuon (Dalbergia oliveri / bariensis) and Thnong (Pterocarpus macrocarpus /pedatus) are also commonly harvested.24


Global Forest Resources Assessment FAO (2015),

For explanations on how FAO define natural production forest, protection forest and industrial timber plantation, go to the FAO 2015 Terms and Definitions report.

ITTO (2005),

Annual bidding coupes are described in the 2002 Law of Forestry as one of three types of concession management.  Since 2002, ABCs are the only type approved by government.  Forest Trends (2015): Conversion Timber, Forest Monitoring, and Land-Use Governance in Cambodia

Phnom Penh Post (2014),

ITTO (2005),

Global Witness (2015), The Cost of Luxury,

10 Knoema (2016)

11 Forest Trends (2015),

12 Observatory of Economic Complexity, using data from the United Nations Statistical Division (2014)

13 ITTO (2011) Status of Tropical Forest Management 2011

14 Global Witness (2015)

15 Global Witness (2015)


17 EIA (2014)

18 Though the report does not specify exact dates of these export documents it is assumed to be for export between 2013-2014 due to the timeframe of the investigation

19 Forest Trends (2015),

20 CITES (2016), 

21 CIFOR (2014)

22 Forest Trends (2015)

23 NEPCon (2014)

24 Cambodian Forestry Administration (2008)

Forest Products

About Forest Products

This section provides an overview of the country's forest production and product trade.


Industry Associations

The Technical Working Group on Forestry Reform (TWG-FR) was set up in 2004 as a coordinating government-donor mechanism to support and strengthen development activities in forestry reform. The TWG-FR also provides technical assistance to the government.

Contact email:

The Rattan Association of Cambodia was established in 2009 and aims to provide sustainable sources of rattan for product buyers, by strengthening the industry’s sustainable practices. The association creates market links, promotes sustainable products and strengthens the rattan producing community within Cambodia. Recognised by the Royal Government of Cambodia, the association’s statutes and by-laws are registered with the Ministry of Commerce. As of March 30 2011, the Rattan Association is a Provisional Member of the World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO).

Contact email:

Civil Society Organizations

WWF Cambodia was established in 1995. WWF Cambodia focuses on developing community engagement within conservation. Promoting the sustainable use of natural resources, WWF Cambodia focuses on the country’s forested areas and wetlands which are iconic habitats of the area. Notable areas of work include the sustainable harvest and use of rattan1, including being involved in the creation of the first rattan association of Cambodia. Two of WWF’s global ‘ecoregions’ cover parts of Cambodia: the Lower Mekong Dry Forests Ecoregion and the Mekong River Ecoregion.2

Another useful aspect of WWF’s work is the Global Forest Trade Network (GFTN), a partnership of 300 companies, communities and NGOs working globally to improve the market for environmentally responsible forest products.

Contact email:

Mlup Baitong is a Cambodian NGO that aims to engage communities in conservation and improve environmental awareness through education, advocacy and community based natural resource management. To contact Mlup Baitong use the ‘contact us’ page of their website, which can be found here.

The Culture and Environment Preservation Association was founded in 1995, and focuses on human interaction with natural resources through various projects. Current projects include community forestry projects; the sustainable livelihood programme; community fishery projects and eco-tourism projects.

Contact email:

Community Forest International (CFI) is an NGO established in 1999. Their main aim is to support communities to manage their own forest land. CFI also work to demonstrate grassroots initiatives as beneficial to policy makers, assisting in the development of REDD+ projects and government financing of community groups. CFI’s website is currently unavailable, but there is a Facebook page.

Save the Earth Cambodia is a NGO registered in Cambodia, which aims to empower people (including indigenous communities), reduce the risk of manmade and natural disasters and adapting to climate change through awareness raising activities.


Mother Nature Cambodia is a leading Cambodian environmental grassroots movement fighting to put an end, through direct yet peaceful means, to the systematic destruction of Koh Kong's precious natural resources. 

The Prey Lang community forestry network is a grassroots organisation that began to form in the early 2000’s but officially formed in 2007 with members from all four Prey Lang provinces. The forest communities have agreed their own forest use rules and cooperate to organize patrols to discourage illegal activities. The group takes part in local and national-level events, performing colorful demonstrations, staging protests, collected signatures for petitions and mapped various forest areas.


Leng Ouch, founder of the Cambodia Human Rights Task Forces (CHRTF) is best known for his undercover work for which he won the Goldman Environmental prize.  Environmental activism in Cambodia is extremely dangerous, but working undercover as a laborer, timber dealer and driver he documented the illegal operations of the country’s biggest timber magnate.

About Contacts

This section provides a list of local contacts who can serve as sources of further information, including industry associations, civil society organizations and government ministries.

Tools & Resources

Tools and Resources

About Tools & Resources

This section directs you to useful and relevant tools and resources, developed by WRI, our partners or other organizations, that provide more information about the country.

Laws & Regulations

Forestry Laws

Cambodia established the National Forest Programme 2010-2029 in October 2010. The programme initially covers nine years and so is due to be updated in 2019. The main objective of the programme is to ensure “the forest resources provide optimum contribution to equitable macro-economic growth and poverty alleviation particularly in rural areas through conservation and sustainable forest management, with active participation of all stakeholders” (Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, 2010). This will be achieved through nine objectives as follows:

  1. Maximising the contribution of sustainable forestry to poverty alleviation;
  2. Ensuring forest-based livelihoods can adapt to climate change and mitigate its effects;
  3. Adopt macro land-use planning approach to allow for more holistic development;
  4. Adopt forest governance, law and enforcement across all levels;
  5. The development of a conflict-management system;
  6. Ensuring the sustainable development of the National Forest Programme through improving institutional capacity to educate future generations;
  7. Protect and conserve forest resources;
  8. Apply modern, adaptable sustainable management models;
  9. Develop sustainable financing system.

This programme is supported by the National Strategic Development Plan 2014-2018 which states that sustainable management of natural resources is part of one of the four strategic objectives. The plan ties into the National Policy on Green Growth which was created in 2013 and has a cross-sectoral scope and aims to balance economic development with the sustainable use of the environment. The policy will also consider societal and cultural needs to create sustainable development approach.  This is achieved by developing a green economy, social safety net system and enhancing the national cultural identity.

The Law on Forestry (August 2002) provides for the management, use, harvesting, conservation and development of all forests (planted or natural) within the Kingdom of Cambodia. It is made of 18 chapters that are subdivided into 109 separate articles. Specifically, the law outlines the duties of the forest administration; defines permanent and private forests; the rights of individuals and legal entities and the rights of traditional users.

The Land law (July 2001) aims to overhaul the distribution and management of the land in Cambodia as well as protect property rights. The law refers to recognition of rights to land of persons who have had peaceful, uncontested possession of the land for a certain period of time. It also recognizes the communal rights to immovable property for pagodas and indigenous communities (art. 23). It is worth noting that some do not feel the law is implemented successfully particularly regarding providing security of ownership as part of post-conflict development in Cambodia.1

The Law on the Establishment of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing (January 1996) was established under the Royal Government of Cambodia. Responsible for the management of forests, fisheries and agriculture, the Ministry is headed by a Minister and assisted by a Secretary of State. 

The Law on the Country Planning, Urbanization and Construction was introduced in May 1994. Comprising of four chapters, the law relates to country planning, urbanisation and construction; a master plan for land use and finally work and construction. To ensure the aims of the law are achieved, the law calls for the establishment of a National Committee which is responsible for issuing provisions aiming at the improvement of both urban and rural areas (article 3).2 The law includes the prohibition of building in reserved or protected areas, (including rivers, dams, water reservoirs, parks and forests) and detailed plans of which areas would be involved in construction projects or allocated to agriculture, industry etc.

The Law Decree on Forestry Administration (KR.C No. 35 of 1988) was created in June 1998. Forest areas are split into two categories: (i) classified forest areas are reserved for timber production or for preservation and areas for reforestation and (ii) protected forest areas, under which are included the remaining categories. The law also defines the conditions and terms of a permit being issued for logging and the transport of timber. It also prohibits some actions, such as cutting rare timber species. The law states that timber that has been approved to be felled should be stamped with "Forest Kampuchea" which can also be used as evidence of a violation of the forestry law. The Forestry and Hunting Authorities are given the authority to conduct inspections and search for forest offences.

Trade Laws

Sub-Decree No. 131 (RGC) on the specification of forest products and sub-products permitted to be exported and imported (November 2006) states that all imports and exports of forest products are only permitted if the product has a license from the Ministry of Commerce and with authorisation from the Chief of Forest Administration. As exemptions, the “export of processed timber or non-timber forest products following traditional style at family or tourist scales are allowed without requirement of export license, and transportation permit issued by Head of Forestry Administration".  (Unofficial translation, Sub-Decree No. 131 (RGC) pg 2).

Article 40 states that local communities living within or near the Permanent Forest Reserves shall have their traditional user rights recognised by the State. This means that local, traditional communities will not require a permit for the forest products and by-products. This includes the right to barter and sell products (article 40, item 5).

Articles 55, 56 and 58 related to the payment of royalties and premiums. Article 57 states that royalties and premiums shall be paid for all Forest Products and by-products and recorded. The rules for payment and receipt of revenues shall be determined by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries and the Ministry of Economy and Finance. All payments must be made before the product can be transferred to a third party. The Forestry Administration has the right to seize products should the permit holder not pay royalties and premiums by the agreed date. Prospective permit holders must pay a deposit to guarantee payment of royalties, though community forests under a community forest agreement are not required to provide a deposit.

Transport Laws

Article 25 of the 2002 Forestry Law states that all activities related to permanent forest estates, forestry products and by products shall require a Permit for transport quotas of forest products and by-products. This permit will be issued to the “person or customer who transports forest products and/or by-products from the forest area where they were harvested to the defined destination” and will clearly state the origin and destination of the product being transported. Article 69 states that this is to be done within one month after harvest.

Article 26 outlines the responsibility of issuing permits. The Head of Forestry Administration has the authority to set transport quotas for forest products and by-products and authorise permits to transport forest products for import/export. The Chief of Cantonment of the Forest Administration has the authority to grant permits to a set transport quota of forest products and by-products from a community forest. Chiefs of Forestry administration divisions also have the authority to grant transport permits for products under their division jurisdiction.

Article 40 (which outlines the rights of indigenous communities) states that customers or third parties who collect forest products from communities for trade purposes should have the permit for forest by-products transportation after royalty and premium payments.

Article 54 states that all forest products and by-products that are harvested need to be assessed by a Forestry Administration official prior to the transport of the product from the forest.

Article 65, 66 and 67 of the Forestry Law outline the requirements of the Forestry Administration hammer stamp (stamp of “Forest Kampuchea") that is used to mark legal logs prior to transport and mark illegal logs that are to be used as evidence for forest offenses. Permitted (legal) logs should have four marks, both at the base and at the end of the log. Impounded (illegal) logs should have three marks in a triangle position in three locations: the base, middle and end of the log. Concession owners may also own a stamp but they should have different markings to differentiate between their stamp and the official one.

Article 72 sets out that all exports should be consistent with the annual quota set by the Ministries of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries on behalf of the Royal Government.

Tax Laws

Article 73 of The Law of Forestry (2002) states that the license for export/ import of Forest Products and By-products shall be issued by the Ministry of Commerce, after the issuance of a Visa by the Head of Forestry Administration.  The exports will be inspected before being sealed into containers by Forestry Administration officials before the products can be transported to a customs warehouse or stockpile area. Any export/important tax and other duty tax, shall be paid for the export/import to the national budget. 

Documents / Legal Texts
Proclamation No. 0067 on setting up a limit of the forest belonging to the inland and marine fishery domain (September 1989).pdf Sub-Decree on the establishment of a National Committee for the Development and Implementation of Forest Policy (July 1996).pdf Sub-Decree on the Creation of the National Committee to Manage and Execute Forest Management Policy (July 1996).pdf Sub-Decree No. 05 ANK BK 2000 on Forest Concessions Management.pdf Sub-Decree on the Organization and Functioning of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (April 2000).pdf Sub-Decree on community forestry management. (December 2003).pdf Order No. 02 (RGC) on management and control on the use of circular saws for cutting wood. (October 2006).pdf Prakas No. 145 (RGC) on establishment and management of community forest areas in Siem Reap province. (May 2007).pdf Sub-Decree No. 55 (RGC) on granting certificate of rubber quality (June 2007).pdf Sub-Decree No. 26 on Rules for Granting User Rights to Plant Trees within State Forest Lands (March 2008).pdf Sub-Decree No. 143 (RGC) on the establishment of protected Forest zone and conservation of biodiversity (September 2009).pdf
CITES Agreement Information

Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) is an international agreement among governments whose purpose is to ensure that international trade in wild animal and plant species does not threaten the survival of these species. A total of 181 countries have agreed to the CITES regulations, which is a legally binding agreement. It is up to each Party to CITES to draft its own domestic legislation in order to comply with its CITES obligations. 

Cambodia acceded to and ratified the Convention in 1997.3

Classified as vulnerable on the IUCN Red List4, in 2011 it was proposed that Siamese rosewood be listed globally as Critically Endangered, but as of October 2016, the proposal has still not been agreed.In 2008, range states were unable to reach a consensus to internationally protect the species through the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), but in 2013 it was listed in Appendix II of CITES following a proposal by Thailand and Vietnam. The listing was then amended in October 2016 to include all parts and derivatives (including furniture) with some exceptions6, which aims to prevent traders crudely processing timber in the source country to circumvent trade controls.7 That means all international trade of the species must now be accompanied by a specific export license. In Cambodia, trade finds way to go around the regulations, i.e. through false CITES re-export licenses issued in neighboring countries such as Vietnam as reported by the Phnom Penh Post in July 2016.8,9 The report Red Alert (2016) by EIA suggested that “Cambodia has incorrectly or illegitimately issued CITES export permits for most of the 12,202m3 of Siamese rosewood between June 2013 and December 2014 as no inventory of the remaining population of the species took place, meaning export figures could not be based on credible data.10 At the COP17 in October 2016, it was agreed that the genus Dalbergia known as rosewood would be included in CITES Appendix II (except the species included in Appendix I).11

In 2014, EIA stated Routes of Extinction: The Corruption and Violence Destroying Siamese Rosewood in the Mekong that of the 3.5 million cubic meters of Hongmu timber China imported between 2000 and 2013, nearly half came from the Mekong region, including Cambodia, according to the EIA’s analysis of U.N. trade data.  According to the data, Cambodia’s exports of rosewood and other Hongmu species more than tripled between 2012 and 2013 from 6,800 cubic meters to 20,700 cubic meters, the highest figure on record for the country since 2000.12 The report continued to state that “by auctioning illegally logged wood seized by Cambodian authorities, illegal timber is laundered into the formal economy and plays a key role in circumventing all existing trade protection for the species in Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia”.13

For more information about CITES species in Cambodia, their status and trade names please consult:

CITES and Timber: A guide to CITES-listed tree species (Groves and Rutherford, 2015)


Sekiguchi and Hatsukano (2013)

Council for the Development of Cambodia (1994)

CITES (2016),

IUCN (2016),

EIA (2014)

For full details of exemptions see

CITES (2016),

Phnom Penh Post (2016),

EIA (2014)

10 EIA (2016), Red Alert,  

11 CITES (2016), 

12 The Cambodia Daily (2014),

13 EIA (2014),

Laws & Regulations

This section provides a list of local contacts who can serve as sources of further information, including industry associations, civil society organizations and government ministries.