Habitat loss in Cambodia and Sweden

Postad i: Awareness, Travelling den 24 October, 2016 av becle747

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This weekend I have travelled to the province north of Mondulkiri, to Ratanalkiri. From the road I could see the difference that I have only heard about so far, and seen on the maps. In Ratanalkiri, most of the primary forest, the rainforest, have been lost due to agriculture and forestry. Forests with an age of thousands of years, with inhibitors that are now under threat, simply speaking due to the fact that they are homeless. This, is habitat loss.

Habitat loss is the greatest threat to species. With habitat, I mean the world’s forests, swamps, plains, lakes, and other habitats, that is now continuing to disappear due to human activity. Mainly, to make place for agriculture and forestry. Generally speaking, we turn nature into monocultures in both of these activities. Some examples are better, some are worse, but on the industrial big scale, the monocultures are considered the only rational method today, leaving little concerns for the biodiversity.

Cambodia has one of the worst deforestation rates in the world. Since 1970, Cambodia’s primary rainforest cover went from over 70 percent, to 3.1 percent today. Cambodia’s deforestation has been accelerating over the past decade, due to industrial plantation expansion, logging, and conversion for agriculture. (1)cambodia's forest loss

The country’s deforestation of roughly one percent a year between 2000 and 2012 gives it the fourth highest deforestation rate among major forest countries. Between 2000 and 2005, Cambodia lost nearly 30 percent of its primary forest cover. On paper, more than 20 percent of Cambodia is under some form of protection (2), but I wonder what “protected” means in the forests, on the ground. When I’m travelling thought the province, and sometimes glance the views of continues forest cover, I remember that all of Cambodia is considered a hot spot for biodiversity. I send my wishes and hopes that what I lay my eyes upon will not get lost into plantations.

Primary forest in Mondulkiri

Primary forest in Mondulkiri

Coming from Sweden, there is a lot of contrasts for me. But this we have in common. In the same way as Cambodia is losing its primary rainforest, Sweden has already lost, and still losing, ours. Our primary forest in Sweden is the taiga, which is our version of rainforests. It’s not as rich in biodiversity, but it’s still the same principles and mechanisms. We are both losing our nature for the same cause. Sometimes to make a living, but in the big scales, to make a good profit.

In Sweden, we have approximately 4 % protected productive forests, with 2 % are distributed below the fells. (3) It’s not an impressive number, and many researchers argue that at least 20 % must be protected in order to maintain and protect our species. (4) Today, Sweden has around 2000 forest living species that are listed in the national red list, meaning that they are being threatened due to our destruction of the taiga. (5) 2010 was the year when due to the Convention of Biological Diversity, should have stopped the species lost. We have until 2020 to protect 17 % of our productive forests. (6) But today, only small conservation actions is being taken, in the same time as our primary forest, the taiga, continues to disappear in a high rate. Every year, approximately 500 hectares of the rare and species rich taiga is being logged (7), and by now, 61 percent of our forest in Sweden has an age below 60 years (8), meaning 60 percent of our forest is now man made forests with a less value for the biodiversity.

Before and after, making primary forest into man made plantations

Before and after, making primary forest into man made plantations

Here is an animation that shows how the habitat loss and fragmentation that is still happening in Sweden, and here you can see the forest loss all over the world, almost in real-time.

I sincerely hope that ecotourism can be a step forward in the conservation work, but we also need to strictly protect some of the last primary forests while there is still something left, as it is the most effective way to work  with conservation.

What does this mean for you and me? It can seem hopeless sometimes. But we are all consumers and citizens. So I can only encourage you to use whatever power you got, and make the best out of it, to choose the better options whenever you can.

Rebecka Le Moine



  1. http://www.fao.org/docrep/016/ap183e/ap183e.pdf
  2. http://www.mekong-protected-areas.org/cambodia/docs/cambodia_lessons.pdf
  3. http://klimatetochskogen.nu/documents/SkS2014-arsboken.pdf
  4. http://www.skyddaskogen.se/sv/upprop
  5. http://www.artdatabanken.se/media/2013/hela-boken.pdf
  6. https://www.cbd.int/sp/targets/rationale/target-11/
  7. http://www.miljomal.se/Global/24_las_mer/rapporter/malansvariga_myndigheter/2015/mal-i-sikte-volym-2.pdf
  8. https://www.slu.se/globalassets/ew/org/centrb/rt/dokument/skogsdata/senaste/tab32.pdf


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Rebecka Le Moine

I\'m 26-year-old Rebecka. I am passionate about species conservation and biodiversity, and I am now doing my master thesis in collaboration with WWF in Cambodia. Follow my adventures in Cambodia and read in-depth about the endangered tiger, and take part of my reflections as a conservation biologist.

If you have any questions, please get in touch at becle747@student.liu.se

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