REFORESTATION OF LOST FOREST COVER
The Cardamom Mountain Range is, today, one of Southeast Asia’s largest remaining tropical forests. Most forests in Southeast Asia are fragmented into smaller islands. However, the Cardamom Rainforest Landscape remains largely un-fragmented and has maintained its continuous forest cover because Wildlife Alliance has worked with the Cambodian government to preserve it against all odds, for rainfall regulation and strategic water supply and to preserve vital elephant and other species’ habitat. To fill in any gaps in the canopy, we created a reforestion program.
-In 2009, Wildlife Alliance conducted a reforestation project to fill in denuded gaps of an important elephant corridor in southwest Cambodia. Tropical forest cover had been destroyed through slash and burn, logging and clearing, leaving entire sections of the corridor without tree canopy nor rainfall. During that year, a reforestation pilot was tested with 8 forest tree species grown and collected and 30,000 tropical trees planted. In 2010, Wildlife Alliance built a million tree nursery and worked with the people of Chi Phat to replant 42 sections of tropical forest.
-In 2010-2012, the following planting activities were conducted:
- 3,000,000 wild tree seeds were planted
- 2,290,879 tree seedlings were produced
840,000 tree saplings were planted
99 wild tropical forest tree species were propagated
- 733 hectares were planted
-In 2012-2018, maintenance activities over 733 hectares were conducted.
It is a challenge to re-grow natural forests, and it is not just a question of planting the seeds and letting them grow. The natural tropical forest has taken thousands of year to grow and can be destroyed in just a few hours. However, to replant it and restore it takes several years. First the soil must be re-built – in the tropics, most often, once the tropical forest has been burned and cleared, the soil loses its fertility within the first 12 months. The layers of organic material are flushed away by strong annual monsoon rains and the area is soon invaded by mono species of weeds. Therefore rebuilding the soil must take place over a period of minimum 5 years with natural composting, manure and lime– first before the initial planting and then each year again during the maintenance period. Soil is kept in place through careful mulching techniques. Weeds must be controlled each year to prevent them from smothering the young trees and are used during the mulching techniques. New trees are planted each year on the rows to propagate weaker species that need shade from the strong growing trees, thus maintaining the natural diversity of the natural forest.
Each planted field requires 5 years of post planting maintenance activities, taking maintenance activities into the year 2018.
Replanting Tropical Forest – Seed collection
Replanting Tropical Forest – Soil preparation
Replanting Tropical Forest – The nursery