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The Cardamom Conundrum: Reconciling Development and Conservation in the Kingdom of Cambodia – Book Review

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:

Tim Killeen
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:

Gabriel Thoumi, CFA is a frequent contributor to

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