The Impact of Agricultural Expansion on Forest Cover in Ratanakiri Province, Cambodia

  •  Sanara Hor    
  •  Izuru Saizen    
  •  Narumasa Tsutsumida    
  •  Tsugihiro Watanabe    
  •  Shintaro Kobayashi    


In the northeastern Cambodian province of Ratanakiri, agricultural expansion has been a significant factor in the decline of forest coverage. As forests are essential for rural populations’ livelihoods and a healthy environment, this study presents the dynamics of this transformed forest landscape resulting from changes in farming, land accessibility and policy changes. A multitemporal dataset consisting of two ALOS/AVNIR-2 images in 2007 and 2011 were used to compare changes in land cover, and the panchromatic image of 2012 Worldview-1 acquired at 100 km2 was used to access specific land-use patterns. Qualitative research methods ranging from an ethnographic method to qualitative data analysis were performed for gathering in-situ information to understand human-induced changes in land use. The results illustrate three triggers found at the local level, actively changing the forest landscape: (1) indigenous people transforming the swidden farming system to the mono-cropping system without external support and agricultural market information, (2) chaotic property market resulting from migrants purchasing existing farms or forest lands from indigenous people via land brokers, and (3) the introduction of land concessions by government via the 2001 Land Law, which allows agricultural cooperation to develop plantations.

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