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Exploring trade-offs between development and conservation outcomes in Northern Cambodia

Beauchamp, Emilie, Clements, Tom, Milner-Gulland, E.J.
Land use policy 2018 v.71 pp. 431-444
case studies, conservation areas, deforestation, developing countries, environmental sustainability, intensive farming, issues and policy, land use, models, social environment, Cambodia
Trade-offs between different land use outcomes are inevitable to meet both development and conservation agendas, especially in developing countries where aspirations for development take place within the world's most biodiversity-rich areas. Reports at the national or subnational levels about how trade-offs between conservation and development outcomes materialise once implemented are limited and regionalized analyses are required to understand how they materialise spatially once policies are executed. We take the case study of northern Cambodia, where both protected areas (PAs), as a conservation policy, and Economic Land Concessions (ELCs), as a developmental agricultural intensification strategy, have been implemented. We explore the influences on placement of ELCs and the extent to which they overlap with protected areas, using mixed effect models. We then determine the predictors of deforestation in the study area between 2008 and 2013, including presence of ELCs and PAs. ELC placement does not respond to expected socio-environmental factors related to implementation criteria in policy documents, and is not influenced by the presence of PAs. ELCs represent the most significant driver of deforestation of the factors considered. PAs limit deforestation but only if well-managed. This failure to achieve the balanced trade-off between conservation and development outcomes which policies intend points to development impacts compromising environmental sustainability in the long-run.