a. Destruction of the Flooded Forest

Global Environment Facility
Proposal for Entry into Pipeline and GEF Block B Grant
Project Title:
GEF Focal Area:
Operational Program:
Country Eligibility:
Full Project Cost:
PDF B request:
Requesting Agency:
Executing Agency:
PDF Block B Duration:
GEF Council Submission:
Integrated Resource Management and Development in the Tonle
Sap Region
Operational Program # 2: Coastal, Marine and Freshwater
Acceded to Convention on Biological Diversity on 9 February 1995
US$ 35 million
ADB (approximately US$ 20 million), Government (approximately
US$ 5 million) GEF (in the range of US$ 8-12 million)
Block B – US$ 350,000; Project Preparation Co-financing of US$
1,000,000 (ADB), US$ 650,000 (Finland)
Asian Development Bank/UNDP
Ministry of Environment (MOE)
12 months
2nd Quarter 2001
Project Objectives
At the request of the Royal Government of Cambodia (RGC), the Asian Development
Bank (ADB) is preparing an investment project to support Integrated Resource Management
and Development in the Tonle Sap Region (the Project). The Tonle Sap, including the Great
Lake and the Tonle Sap River which connects it to the Mekong River, is a large wetland
encompassing an area of about 16,000 km2 when at full flood each year. The Tonle Sap is
home to more than 400 species of fish, 200 species of birds, several hundred species of trees
and other plants that flourish in an area subject to annual inundations lasting up to several
months, and assorted mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and others species. It has probably the
most productive freshwater fisheries in the world, with annual yields in the range of 100-150,000
tons; and provides critical habitat for many migratory waterfowl. The Tonle Sap watershed is
also home to an estimated 3 million Cambodians, many of whom derive at least part of their
subsistence needs or income from the wetland resources.
The Tonle Sap is coming under continually increasing pressure from agricultural
encroachment and development, deforestation, over-exploitation of the fisheries, and hunting
and collecting of wildlife and other resources. Pressure on the living resources of the Tonle Sap
already is intense, to the point where some stocks are in danger of being permanently damaged
or even totally destroyed. Maintaining the integrity of the ecology and hydrology of the system,
and thus its very high production level, will also improve the welfare of the riparian communities
by providing increased opportunities for employment and income, further development of the
local markets and economy, and improved social infrastructure.
The goal of the project is to promote a process of sustainable development in the Tonle
Sap region of Cambodia. The project will have three closely inter-related objectives: (i) to
support economic development and natural resources management through the creation of an
enabling policy, legislative and institutional framework, and selective capital investments; (ii) to
strengthen community-based natural resources management systems for rural development;
and (iii) to conserve globally significant biodiversity through protection and/or sustainable use of
resources in threatened components of the ecosystem and critical habitats. The Project will help
Cambodia to guide the inevitable development of the Tonle Sap region in a manner that will
preserve its unique ecology and hydrology, and especially the many benefits provided by the
living resources of the wetland. The Project will develop an appropriate policy and legal
framework at the national level to protect and manage the natural resources and agricultural
systems in the Tonle Sap region, and will support the development and implementation of
sustainable management practices at the community level around the perimeter of the lake for
the critical resources of the wetland system. The Project will also support specific infrastructure
developments, including rural roads, basic port facilities at three sites, community buildings
(markets, schools, etc.), and basic sanitary facilities. Project preparation focused on issues of
resource management and rural development will be accomplished under ADB’s technical
assistance on Protection and Management of Critical Wetlands in the Lower Mekong Basin (the
TA), beginning in April 2000 and completed by mid-2001.1 Supplementary PDF Block B funding
is being sought to specifically incorporate biodiversity conservation measures into the Project
Global Significance and Problems
The Tonle Sap wetland system comprises the Great Lake of Cambodia, and the Tonle
Sap River which connects the lake with the Mekong River. The case for global significance of
the biodiversity of the Tonle Sap is strong, and is founded on the unusual hydrological system
around which the unique flooded forest ecosystem and its associated fauna of migratory fishes,
aquatic mammals, birds, and amphibians and reptiles have evolved.
The Tonle Sap lake bed is only about one meter above mean sea level. The Tonle Sap
River reverses its flow twice each year, draining the lake into the Mekong River during the dry
season when the water level is low, and filling the lake from the Mekong River during the wet
season when the water level is high. At its minimum extent in the dry season, the lake covers an
area of about 2,500 km2 and its depth is fairly uniform at about 1 m; however, in the wet season
the lake expands to cover up to 16,000 km2 with a maximum depth of about 10 m. More than 60
percent of the flood water in the lake comes from the Mekong River and less than 40 percent
comes from its own catchment area, and delta formation from the deposition of Mekong River
sediments at the entrance to the lake impedes dry season navigation. At full flood the lake
temporarily stores about 72 billion m3 of water, or 16 percent of the annual discharge of the
Mekong River, thus buffering the annual flood in downstream areas. The functioning of this
hydrological system is critical to the productivity of the downstream agricultural areas of the
Mekong River floodplain and delta in Cambodia and Viet Nam. The hydrology of the Tonle Sap
is influenced by upstream developments in the Mekong River Basin from Lao PDR to the
People’s Republic of China.
The flooded forest forms the core of a unique ecosystem which has evolved in the
floodplain of the lower reaches of the Mekong River system. More than 150 plant species which
survive and flourish when fully or partially submerged for periods of up to several months
annually, have been identified among the flora of the flooded forest in the Tonle Sap. The
TA No. 5822-REG is financed by ADB ($1.0 million from the Japan Special Fund) and the Government of Finland
($0.65 million), with contributions from the Royal Government of Cambodia ($0.31 million) and the Government
of Lao PDR ((0.11 million), for a total cost of $2.07 million. TA implementation will run for about 30 months from
December 1999–May 2002, although the project preparatory component will be completed by mid-2001.
dominant tree species are endemic, and a significant (though as yet uncounted) number of
liana, undergrowth and aquatic plant species are also endemic. Estimated to have once covered
up to 10,000 km2, the flooded forest has been severely encroached and degraded, and now
less than 39 percent of its original extent remains under natural vegetation, and less than 2
percent under dense forest cover. Pressure on the flooded forest, and its fisheries and biotic
resources, comes from a growing human population, agricultural encroachment, forest fires, and
harvesting for fuel and construction.
The fish fauna of the Tonle Sap comprises more than four hundred species, and many of
them figure in what is considered to be the most productive freshwater fishery in the world with
an annual yield generally estimated at 100-150,000 tons.2 For most of the fish species, the
flooded forest is the critical habitat where they reproduce, feed and grow during high water,
while the permanent water bodies of the dry season lake and river mainstream provide a refuge
during low water. The fish are commonly divided into ‘white fish’ species which generally prefer
open or flowing water which is well oxygenated, of which many species undertake significant
seasonal spawning migrations, and ‘black fish’ species which generally prefer swamps and
ponds and can survive low oxygen concentrations, and do not migrate (although they do spread
out through the inundation zone with the annual flood). The Tonle Sap is the breeding ground
for many of the species that supply the fisheries and aquaculture systems downstream in Viet
Nam, and other fish species migrate up the Mekong River to enter the fisheries of Thailand and
Lao PDR. Although none of the fish species is endemic to the Tonle Sap, most are endemic to
the Mekong River system, where the Tonle Sap is a major breeding and production area. Some
of the fish species have become rare or endangered, including the giant freshwater catfish
Pangasianodon gigas which can reach half a ton. The fishing effort in the Tonle Sap has
increased dramatically in recent years as the Department of Fisheries (DOF) has expanded the
system of fishing concessions which are auctioned on a two year rotation. The concessions
usually are acquired by wealthy outsiders, thus taking fishing grounds away from riparian
communities. The fisheries clearly exhibit signs of over-exploitation, including the
disappearance of large commercial species from the catch, their replacement with smaller and
less valuable species, and a marked decline in the average size of the individual fish caught.
As with the fishes, the flooded forest provides critical nesting sites, refuges and feeding
grounds for many species of waterfowl. For some species, such as the spot-billed pelican,
open-billed stork, greater and lesser adjutant storks and giant ibis, the Tonle Sap represents the
most significant remaining refuge during parts or all of their life-cycles, and this has led to the
designation of Boeng Chhmar, a permanent wetland in the inundation zone, as a Ramsar site. A
total of 225 species have been recorded since the 1960’s. Although hunting does not appear to
be a serious threat to mature birds, the collection of eggs and chicks is taking a heavy toll on the
migratory waterfowl.
Tonle Sap is or has been home to other important species as well. The Irrawaddy
dolphin Orcaella brevirostris used to migrate between the Mekong River mainstream and the
Tonle Sap, and although there have been no recent sightings in the Tonle Sap since their wide
scale slaughter in the late 1970s, a small number persist in the mainstream (roughly estimated
at from 60 to several hundred), and could possibly return to the Tonle Sap if their numbers
recover. Three or four species of crocodile also historically inhabited the Tonle Sap, and one or
two species are still occasionally reported, the most credible reports concerning the persistence
Among the rivers of the world, only the Amazon River has a more diverse fish fauna than the Mekong
of the Siamese crocodile Crocodylus siamensis in Prek Toal and Boeng Chhmar. This species
is also widely farmed.
The Tonle Sap system boundary for the purposes of the PDF B grant is defined to
include the full inundation zone of the Great Lake and Tonle Sap River at high water. This area
is congruent with the boundary of the proposed Tonle Sap Biosphere Reserve, and is
approximated by the area enclosed by National Roads 6 to the north and east of the lake, and
National Road 5 to the south and west. It is not appropriate to try to establish a smaller system
boundary focussing on specific demonstration sites around the lake for this project, because the
threats to the biodiversity of Tonle Sap encompass the entire system, and therefore need to be
addressed at such a scale. The major threats to the globally significant biodiversity, especially
with regard to the fishes and other aquatic animals, can only be tackled through integrated
management of the entire Tonle Sap system.
Destruction of the Flooded Forest
As stated above, the flooded forest is at the heart of the wetland ecosystem, and its
continuing destruction is the primary threat to the ecosystem as a whole. There are three main
reasons for continuing deforestation in the inundation zone. First is the demand for wood and
bamboo to construct fishing equipment, which ranges from simple traps to the extensive fences
constructed under the samrah system. The wood used typically consists of branches cut from
tree canopies during flood peaks when they are readily available at the lake surface, scrub cut
from disturbed forest patches, and sometimes whole trees. Second is the demand for wood to
produce charcoal for cooking and drying fish, which also comes from cut branches or whole
trees. Third is the demand for new land for agriculture. While the first two demands may result
only in degrading the quality of the forest if too much wood is removed, the third inevitably
destroys the forest and does not allow its regeneration.
Cambodia has a fast-growing human population (4 percent per annum during 19941998), and 54 percent are under the age of 20. In order to continue to be able to feed the
population, increases in agricultural production are essential. Expanding the area under
cultivation is one approach, but encroaching on the flooded forest is a relatively inefficient
strategy to increase production, since cultivation there largely limited to recession rice crops as
the seasonal flood waters recede, and to mung bean cultivation along the lake shore at low
water. Although other areas and agricultural systems may offer higher production levels, factors
such as the lack of competing claims to land in the inundation zone, and close proximity to the
permanent water source in the lake, will continue to drive the poor and landless to encroach on
the flooded forest to grow crops.
The commercial fisheries of the Tonle Sap are dominated by the fishing lot system,
under which most of the remaining flooded forest area is allocated among more than 40 fishing
lots, which are auctioned off by DOF under concessions for two years. This system has been in
place for a long time, although the recently DOF has increased the number of fishing lots and
their total area. Because the fishing lots are very valuable, they tend to be controlled by a small
number of rich individuals who generally are not local residents. The current auction system
encourages concessionaires to maximize their own income in the short term by harvesting
everything they can, rather than to manage the fishery resources for long term sustainable
production. The concessionaires jealously guard access to their lots, frequently employing
private militia to deter poachers, and increasing the area under concessions has further
disenfranchised riparian communities and local fishermen. Because the fishing lots are a very
lucrative source of income for DOF, they have a strong vested interest to resist efforts to reform
the system.
Despite the obvious problems with the fishing lot system, it may have some positive
effects on biodiversity conservation. Because the lots are vigorously defended, other threats to
the forest and wildlife such as timber cutting, fires, and hunting also are controlled. Some
concessionaires may recognize the link between forest quality and fish productivity, thus
promoting efforts to conserve the forest, although forest protection is more likely to be incidental
to defense of the fishery. It is probable that any added incentives to encourage a more
sustainable management of the fishery would also promote forest conservation.
Although historically most Cambodians have routinely engaged in subsistence fishing,
the fishing lot system severely limits local people’s access to fishery resources. The lots are
open out-of-season, but during the fishing season from October to May local residents are
legally limited to fishing only in the few remaining open areas, resulting in their over exploitation.
Alternatively, they may be reduced to poaching, or to (illegally) sub-leasing small areas from
concessionaires at exorbitant prices, which again promotes heavy over exploitation, often
utilizing illegal methods.
Clearly the current system of managing the Tonle Sap fisheries needs to be carefully
reviewed, and more sustainable management systems developed so that the high levels of
production can be maintained in the long term. There are examples of effective communitybased management, and FAO has a successful project to study and promote efficiency in
community-based management, but expanding the approach to the rest of the Tonle Sap would
necessarily weaken DOF’s influence, which they are likely to strenuously oppose.
Hunting and Collecting
Waterfowl are hunted for subsistence and to reduce perceived competition to the fishery,
and other animals also are occasionally hunted for food. The threat to wildlife from hunting
seems to be relatively small, but it does need to be better quantified to understand the
implications for biodiversity conservation. However, collecting waterfowl eggs and chicks is
possibly much more of a threat to waterfowl populations, with estimates of numbers taken
annually reaching tens of thousands. Another potential threat is the harvesting of snakes for use
as feed on crocodile farms, which may have a significant economic cost due to dramatically
increased losses of rice and other crops to rodents.
Agricultural Chemicals
A potentially very serious future threat to the ecology and biodiversity of the Tonle Sap
stems from the use of agricultural chemicals to improve crop productivity. One example is the
present use of high levels of pesticide during mung bean cultivation along the dry season lake
shore, which can then enter the lake at a time when dilution and dispersion are minimal,
potentially poisoning not only fish in the area, but also animals further up the food chain.
Another example is the increasingly widespread use of fertilizers to improve crop productivity,
much of which are applied during the dry season or early in the wet season. If early rains flush
significant quantities into the lake when the water level is still low and dilution and dispersion are
minimal, it may result in localized temporary eutrophication and even fish kills. If fertilizer use in
the Tonle Sap catchment area increases too much, it may change the chemistry of the lake
even at flood to the extent that it interferes with fish migrations and spawning. Currently
Cambodia does not have adequate controls on the use of agricultural chemicals, and even
banned pesticides like DDT are available and used. The vast majority of farmers also remain
ignorant of the proper use of chemicals, often resulting in misapplications and excessive and
unnecessary use.
Exotic Pests
Water hyacinth and giant mimosa (Mimosa pigra) have become established in the
ecosystem. Currently the areas covered by these two species are not large and opinion differs
as to future developments. Having been present for a longer period, it seems that water
hyacinth is not likely to dominate large areas of waterways, although it will be a problem locally.
The present distribution of mimosa suggests that it may be largely restricted to highly disturbed
localities and to regions of intermediate flooding depth and duration. Although local fishermen
claim that fish avoid areas where mimosa is established, due to the danger of injury from its
thorns and sharp spines, the effects of mimosa on the fisheries have yet to be studied or
scientifically verified.
Cambodia has adopted a National Environmental Action Plan (NEAP) for the period 19982000, and is also beginning the process to establish a Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan, with
financial support from the GEF. One of the six substantive chapters of the NEAP deals with Tonle
Sap as an entity, while another deals with biodiversity conservation. A section entitled “Framework
for Sustainable Management of the Tonle Sap Area” notes the need for inter-agency collaboration
and the existing financial and technical assistance of UNDP towards this end.
Management authority for the land and natural resources of the Tonle Sap is vested in
several sectoral agencies, most notably the DOF within the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and
Fisheries (MAFF). DOF is responsible for managing all the resources within the ‘fishery domain’,
an area of about 580,000 ha comprising the permanently flooded lake area, plus much of the
flooded forest. Also in MAFF, the Department of Forestry and Wildlife (DFW) is responsible for
wildlife conservation, while the Department of Agronomy (DOA) is responsible for agricultural
areas. Other RGC agencies with a direct interest in the Tonle Sap include the Ministry of Water
Resources and Meteorology (MWRM), the Ministry of Rural Development (MRD) and the Ministry
of Public Works and Transport (MPWT). Most of these ministries are de-centralised to some
degree, with offices at the provincial, district, and in some cases even commune level. These
decentralised ministry offices have a dual loyalty, as they also report to the politically influential
provincial governors.3
The NEAP mentions an inter-ministerial co-ordinating mechanism, the Technical
Coordination Unit for the Tonle Sap (TCU), within the Ministry of the Environment (MOE). The
work of this forum is complicated by the fact that MOE is not directly responsibly for managing the
resources of Tonle Sap, and consequently it has little power to effect change. MOE is responsible
for managing national protected areas, and could have jurisdiction over parts of the Tonle Sap
only if they were to be formally declared as national parks, wildlife reserves, or other protected
areas. MOE recently designated the Tonle Sap as a Biosphere Reserve with three core areas
where the most extensive and best quality flooded forest remains, and a buffer zone, the
Five of Cambodia’s 19 provinces border the Tonle Sap lake (Kampong Chhnang, Pursat, Battambang, Siem
Reap, and Kampong Thom), and two more are in the upper catchment (Banteay Meanchey and Preah Vihear).
Of Cambodia’s total population of 11.4 million, an estimated 3 million are living in the Tonle Sap watershed.
boundary of which coincides with the fishery domain. Inter-sectoral management of the Biosphere
Reserve is intended to occur through the TCU established within MOE. However, as the fishery
domain remains under the authority of DOF, the co-ordinating mechanism established by MOE is
not functional.
The Tonle Sap is described as the heart and soul of the people of Cambodia, and plays
a significant role in their economic, social, and cultural life. Cambodia’s developing economy is
still strongly rooted in its agricultural and fisheries base. The Great Lake is the largest freshwater
lake in Southeast Asia, and at peak flood covers 7 percent of the area of Cambodia. The Tonle
Sap fisheries have been estimated to provide up to 70 percent of the animal protein in the
Cambodian national diet, and the commercial fisheries have been valued at about $70 million
annually. Agricultural development in the inundation zone, along with tree cutting for fuel and
timber, are primary causes for the rapid encroachment of the flooded forest in recent decades.
These threats to the highly productive natural ecological system will only increase in the
foreseeable future, largely driven by Cambodia’s rapid rate of population growth. The Tonle Sap
inundation zone currently accounts for about 7-8 percent of the annual national rice crop, and is
a major area for mung bean cultivation as well.
The tight dependence of the fisheries on the flooded forest was recognized by the RGC
when it placed much of the inundation zone under the jurisdiction of DOF rather than DFW. The
flooded forest is also critical habitat for many endangered species, including migratory waterfowl
(some of which migrate from northern Asia to Australia), crocodiles, fish, etc. Three core areas,
Prek Toal at the western end of the lake, Boeng Chhmar on the northern shore, and Stoeng Sen
at the eastern end, have been designated as Biosphere Reserves.
Many small scale studies, research projects, and pilot projects, have been implemented
around the Tonle Sap in the past decade. However, none has yet led to a comprehensive
strategy for resource management and development backed up by investment and technical
assistance. Among the more significant recent projects are: (i) Natural Resources-Based
Development Strategy for the Tonle Sap Area, Cambodia, a program to develop integrated
management systems for the natural resources of the Tonle Sap, funded by UNDP and
completed in 1998; (ii) Participatory Natural Resources Management in the Tonle Sap Region, a
pilot program to develop a community-based integrated management system for the
agricultural, forestry and fisheries resources of the inundation zone, funded by FAO and
completed in 1998; (iii) Management of Freshwater Capture Fisheries of Cambodia, funded by
Denmark and implemented by the Mekong River Commission Secretariat (MRCS); and (iv)
Inventory and Management of Cambodian Wetlands, also funded by Denmark and implemented
by MRCS. Organizations such as UNESCO and the European Commission, and NGOs like
Wetlands International and the International Crane Foundation have undertaken small-scale
projects and studies, which provide important social and ecological background information on
the Tonle Sap.
Project Description and Implementation Arrangements
The full Project will include one set of components and activities financed under an ADB
loan that are primarily focused on rural development (baseline elements), and a second set of
components and activities financed under a GEF grant that are primarily focused on biodiversity
conservation (incremental elements). A few activities, such as those concerned with capacity
building, training, and public awareness, will have both baseline and incremental elements, and
thus draw funds from both the loan and the grant.
The baseline Project will consist of the following activities to be implemented through a
participatory community-based approach:
(i) develop and implement a national level policy, legal, and institutional framework that will
provide adequate support to sustainable resource management and development needs
with regard to wetland areas in general and the Tonle Sap in particular;
(ii) provide institutional capacity building, technical training, and public awareness programs
for sustainable natural resources management and development;
(iii) construct basic infrastructure to foster economic development and public welfare, such
as port facilities at 3 sites, rural roads, community buildings, sanitary facilities, etc;
(iv) rationalize fisheries management and promote equitable access for riparian
(v) develop and implement a plan to control the spread of the noxious exotic weed Mimosa
pigra, and to establish long term removal programs for certain critical habitats;
(vi) implement an environmental monitoring system focused on natural resource
management; and
(vii) continuation of flooded forest re-establishment trials initiated under the TA.
The GEF alternative will build on the baseline elements described above, and will
include the following:
(viii) enhance the policy and legal framework to be developed under the baseline with special
attention to the conservation of globally important biodiversity;
(ix) consolidate and expand the formal and informal protected area network;
(x) implement an alternative livelihood program to reduce threats to critical elements of the
(xi) enhance the baseline program for capacity building, training, and awareness with regard
to biodiversity conservation;
(xii) enhance the baseline environmental monitoring system to include a special focus on
critical components of biodiversity; and
(xiii) rehabilitate and restore abandoned floating rice areas and other barren lands, and
reestablish core sections of flooded forest to maintain the integrity of overall ecosystem.
The executing agencies for the Project will include MAFF for the agricultural and
fisheries components, MRD for the rural development or community infrastructure components,
and MPWT for the road and port components; and MOE will also provide support for activities
related to biodiversity conservation.
Proposed PDF Block B Activities
The immediate objective of the PDF Block B grant is to prepare a GEF-eligible Project
component for biodiversity conservation. The feasibility study for the Project will be prepared
under the TA during April 2000-May 2001; and the intention is to simultaneously implement the
PDF grant to ensure close coordination with the activities of the TA team, and full integration of
the biodiversity component into the Project.
The TA will address the following aspects of Project preparation:
development of a policy matrix, and an analysis of the capabilities and training needs of
the proposed executing agencies for the investment project;
a review of fisheries sector laws, regulations and policies, and a clear proposal to
improve the management of the fishing concession and sanctuary systems to achieve
long term sustainable fisheries production in the Tonle Sap;
(iii) trials to reestablish the flooded forest in areas of abandoned floating rice culture and
other unused areas;
(iv) trials to control the noxious weed Mimosa pigra;
(v) a small-scale pilot program to establish duck raising as an alternative to collecting eggs
and chicks of migratory waterfowl;
(vi) supporting work on fish spawning and migration studies;
(vii) water pollution monitoring around floating villages and riparian communities, and a
proposal to control or mitigate the effects especially during the critical low water period;
(viii) preparation of feasibility study for an investment project, including resource management
components, capacity building activities, and basic infrastructure; and
(ix) an initial environmental examination (IEE) and a social assessment for the overall
The PDF Block B grant will be used for the following:
to support stakeholder consultations to help define biodiversity conservation strategies,
including the identification of threats to biodiversity, and the development of appropriate
to review the current sectoral management arrangements governing the use of natural
resources of the Tonle Sap, and formulate modifications necessary to conserve
biodiversity, including the creation of multi-stakeholder advisory committees, and an
inter-sectoral coordination mechanism;
to conduct a needs assessment and develop a program to support biodiversity
conservation in the Tonle Sap, in the public and private sectors, through public
awareness campaigns, educational and training programs, and capacity building;
to assess possible alternative eco-friendly livelihoods for persons who currently engage
in activities that threaten biodiversity; for example, developing employment opportunities
in ecotourism for hunters and egg collectors;
to review and propose changes as appropriate to the current national system for
protecting critical habitats for biodiversity conservation, including an analysis of how
critical habitats are identified, what are the possible designations and the levels of
protection afforded, how a protection designation is chosen and conferred, and how well
designated protected areas actually are managed;
to review the current area and distribution of protected areas in the Tonle Sap region,
and propose changes as appropriate to meet the requirements of biodiversity
conservation both within and outside the formal protected area system;
to design a comprehensive environmental monitoring program for critical ecosystems
and habitat areas; and
to develop GEF Project Brief, including a logical framework analysis with performance
indicators for each GEF Project component, and an analysis of the incremental costs.
Scientifically reliable information on Tonle Sap, including biological, physical and socioeconomic data, is fragmented, incomplete, and often of uncertain reliability. A significant
component of the PDF Block B will involve the compilation of existing information to ensure that
any resulting strategy is based on the best available information; but the collection of new data
will be kept to a minimum.
PDF Block B Outputs
The outputs of the PDF Block B activities will include:
a comprehensive strategy, institutional arrangements, and action plan to conserve
critical ecosystems and habitats of the Tonle Sap, both within and outside the national
protected area system, including the consolidation and expansion of protected areas in
the Tonle Sap;
(ii) plans developed for public awareness, education, training, and capacity building
programs in support of biodiversity conservation;
(iii) plans to integrate biodiversity conservation with improved natural resource management
and livelihood systems developed for the Tonle Sap, that incorporate active public
participation through stakeholder committees and other mechanisms; and
(iv) a detailed project brief, including incremental cost analysis, for an integrated project
suitable for GEF and ADB cofinancing, that will clearly present the following:
 a summary of the global significance and unique biological and ecological
attributes of each of the project sites, and the global benefits that will accrue from
conservation interventions;
 details of the ecological, social and economic attributes of each site;
 a description of the threats and their root causes facing biodiversity at each site;
 a clear strategy for mitigating the threats and their underlying causes;
 an account of the baseline (comprising biodiversity management activities that
will occur irrespective of GEF inputs, that have a bearing on the resolution of
 the sustainable development baseline (comprising additional activities required to
address threats that may be justified in the domestic interest);
 identification and justification of the incremental costs of activities needed to
generate global conservation benefits, over and above the sustainable
development baseline;
 details of monitoring and evaluation measures; and
 details of execution and implementation measures.
Cambodia acceded to the Convention on Biological Diversity on 9 February 1995. The
Project is consistent with the GEF Operational Strategy, especially Operational Program #2 on
Coastal, Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems; and also with Operational Program #3 on Forest
Ecosystems with respect to the more restricted area of the seasonally flooded forest. The
unique ecosystem of the Tonle Sap is based on the exceptional productivity made possible by
the flooded forest, which is threatened by unmanaged development activities, and Project
outcomes will include conservation of globally significant biodiversity through public awareness
programs and institutional strengthening, inter-sectoral coordination, multi-level public
involvement, the implementation of sustainable use plans, enhanced protected area network, as
well as specific threat removal activities.
National Level Support and Coordination
The RGC attaches highest priority to sustainable development in the Tonle Sap region
and has requested the ADB to take a lead role in preparing and financing a comprehensive
program of investment and technical assistance for this purpose. The RGC is very concerned
about environmental degradation in the Tonle Sap, and has been actively soliciting donor
support to develop and implement appropriate management systems to conserve and protect
the natural resources and biodiversity. As mentioned above, the Tonle Sap is specifically
discussed as a priority in the NEAP, and the RGC already has designated some of the area as
Biosphere Reserve. While MOE is implementing the ADB regional TA in Cambodia, MAFF,
MRD and MPWT are the likely executing agencies for the ensuing Project, all have designated
counterpart staff to assist the TA team with Project preparation. A letter of endorsement from the
GEF Operational Focal Point will be submitted as soon as it is available.
UNDP has played a significant role in exploring the possibilities of a GEF intervention in
the Tonle Sap, and is supporting relevant conservation activities in Cambodia. UNDP will act as
Implementing Agency for the Project, and this will help to ensure good coordination. The Mekong
River Commission Secretariat in Phnom Penh is also assisting on the TA in a coordination role.
Justification for the PDF B
The Tonle Sap ecosystem is unique, harboring an extraordinarily wide variety of plant
and animal species, many of which are adapted to and dependent upon the equally unique
Tonle Sap hydrological system, and as such the Tonle Sap deserves international support for
the conservation of its biodiversity. The Tonle Sap is also a key regional resource, contributing
significantly to the fisheries of the Mekong River riparian nations, and to the agricultural
productivity of the Mekong delta in Viet Nam. Finally, the productivity of the Tonle Sap
ecosystem is the foundation of the Cambodian economy.
The PDF Block B grant is required to ensure that biodiversity conservation concerns are
adequately addressed as the Tonle Sap region continues to develop. The RGC has clearly
indicated its willingness to borrow funds to promote and manage the development of the Tonle
Sap region, and ADB is preparing a rural development project for the Tonle Sap which is expected
to be funded primarily by a loan in 2002. However, the Cambodian national economy remains
very weak, and with much of the population living in poverty, the RGC cannot afford to dedicate
scarce funds for activities like biodiversity conservation when immediate economic returns are not
obvious. The PDF Block B grant will ensure that a biodiversity conservation component is fully
integrated into the design of the full Project, and GEF funds will ensure that it is implemented
along with the development components. The PDF Block B implementation will promote
integration among sectoral agencies involved in the Tonle Sap, and outputs of the Block B will
allow biodiversity conservation objectives to be achieved in the supportive context of a sustainable
rural development initiative.
Timetable and Budget
Timetable. This PDF B proposal will be discussed at the ADB/GEFSec Bilateral Meeting
in February 2000. The GEF Operational Focal Point for Cambodia will submit his letter of
endorsement to ADB by February 2000. After the PDF Block B is endorsed by the CEO, ADB’s
internal project preparatory technical assistance documentation will be submitted for ADB
management approval (currently scheduled for April / May 2000). It is proposed to begin the
PDF Block B grant activities by June 2000, and they will be completed by May 2001, which
coincides with the completion date for the Project feasibility study being prepared under the TA.
The majority of project preparatory tasks, including baseline and GEF eligible components, are
likely to be completed by end of first quarter 2001. It is expected that the full project brief will be
submitted for consideration by the GEF Council in the second quarter of 2001.
Budget. The PDF Block B will finance the following items:
Remuneration and per diem
(i) International consultants (10 person-months)
(ii) Domestic consultants (10 person-months)
International and local travel
Stakeholder Workshops (incl. participants travel)
Reports and communications
Items by Source of Financing
Asian Development Bank
Remuneration and Per Diem
International Consultants
Domestic Consultants
International and Local Travel
Training Programs
Meetings and Workshops
Vehicles and Equipment
Reports and Communications
Miscellaneous Admin and Support Costs
Subtotal (A)
B. Government of Finland
Remuneration and Per Diem
International Consultants
Domestic Consultants
International and Local Travel
Surveys and Support
Reports and Communications
Miscellaneous Admin and Support Costs
Subtotal (B)
C. Government of Cambodia
Participation of Counterpart Staff
Office Accommodation
Translation and Interpretation
Workshop Expenses
Documents, References, Maps
Subtotal (C)
D. GEF Block B
Remuneration and Per Diem
International Consultants
Domestic Consultants
International and Local Travel
Stakeholder Workshops
Reports and Communications
Subtotal (D)
Source: TA Paper and Staff estimates.
Total Cost