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Of biodiversity and boundaries: a case study of community-based natural resource management practice in the Cardamom Mountains, Cambodia

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  16 September 2010

Department of Resource Management and Geography, University of Melbourne, 3010Australia
Department of Resource Management and Geography, University of Melbourne, 3010Australia
*Correspondence: Dr Ruth Beilin e-mail:


In the Cardamom Ranges (Cambodia) community-based natural resource management (CBNRM) is proposed by the international non-governmental organizations (NGOs) community as a natural resource management strategy to achieve the targeted outcomes associated with the protected area (PA) management plan. Local people are expected to participate in CBNRM projects such as community forestry (CF) in order that the protected area management plan can be realized. The experiences of the local people are juxtaposed against the aims of these local biodiversity projects. Overall, it is accepted by the NGOs and government agencies that communities need to be involved in the design and management of the PA and that the protection of biodiversity resources can only occur with the provision of alternatives for local livelihood options to decrease land clearing for agriculture and harvesting of wild foods and animals. This case points to a basic misalignment between biodiversity conservation and CBNRM. Participants in this study contested the meaning and usefulness of the PA and the CF projects. Their concerns were cultural, social, economic and political, exposing uneven relations of power and uncertainty associated with the long term outcomes. Participation itself required scrutiny in this situation, as did the promotion of a global biodiversity ‘good’ over local understandings of place and landscape. Lessons from more than 20 years of participatory CBNRM may be used to reconfigure the CBNRM ideal, to assist planners and implementers towards an integrated approach with biodiversity values reflected in both conservation and local production systems, acknowledging that these systems are culturally constituted.

THEMATIC SECTION: Community-based natural resource management (CBNRM): designing the next generation (Part 2)
Copyright © Foundation for Environmental Conservation 2010

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