Tim Killeen’s engaging new book, The Cardamom Conundrum: Reconciling Development and Conservation in the Kingdom of Cambodia, describes decision-making options that the Government of Cambodia could engage in to develop their nation along a path of sustainability through resolving the sustainable economic development paradox, or “conundrum”. ”. Dr. Killeen’s analysis demonstrated that this conundrum could be resolved based on a green economy with four pillars. These pillars are:
- Providing communities opportunities to conserve and manage their forests through stacking and bundling ecosystem assets (see TransLinks).
- Diversifying agriculture techniques and products for local and international trade including intensifying production on the rice plain through drip irrigation and introducing new markets for upland crops such as perennial woods species like silk and rubber (see Wildlife Friendly Ibis Rice Project). Much of Cambodia’s farmland is dormant throughout the long dry season and could be much more productive through sustainable use drip irrigation using water from the local aquifer that is replenished by the annual floods of the Mekong River.
- Managing Cambodia’s natural fisheries to ensure long-term sustainable use, while promoting green aquaculture to meet increases in domestic demand and create an export sector with massive growth potential.
- Developing sustainable tourism options for both local and international interests through land-use planning and zoning, energy efficiency and improved access to tourism locations. This could occur in a manner that mimics the core/satellite strategy implemented in Angkor Wat,Cambodia, which keeps hotel and infrastructure development out of the core area of temple complexes.
Tim Killeen inspecting timber beams confiscated by forest rangers and military police near the Central Cardamom Protected Forest in 2008. (Photo courtesy of Tim Killeen)
The Krâvanh Mountains region or the “Cardamom Mountains” (in Khmer written as Chuor Phnom Krâvanh) are one of the most important ecologically rich mountainous regions in mainland SE Asia. The 20,000 sq km region is dominated by evergreen rain forest, with unique pine savannas located on isolated mountain ridges. It is home to at least 80 globally threatened species. The area is about one-third of Cambodia’s surface area with a population of about 1 million.
The book has been translated into Khmer with the intention that it will inform Cambodian decision-makers.
The book presents the options Cambodian’s face in a positive manner, empowering their future economic choices with green economic alternatives, in a manner that allows Cambodians to resolve their “Cardamom Conundrum”. Finally, it is a must-read book for any institution and person with an ecological sciences, sustainability, business, and regional focus on Cambodia. This book provides a framework by which Cambodian sustainability-based long-term regional and local development decisions can be discussed, measured, analyzed and attributed.
How to order:
The Cardamom Conundrum: Reconciling Development and Conservation in the Kingdom of Cambodia Paperback
Publisher: NUS Press Singapore
Author: Dr. Timothy J. Killeen
Gabriel Thoumi, CFA is a frequent contributor to Mongabay.com.