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The Cardamom Conundrum

Reconciling Development and Conservation in the Kingdom of Cambodia

Timothy Killeen

Publication Year: 2012

A “conundrum” is a puzzle whose solution involves resolving a paradox. In this instance, the paradox arises from two widely held and conflicting assumptions: that the pathway to a modern economy requires exploiting and monetizing a country’s natural resources, and that the long-term prosperity of a nation depends on the conservation of those same resources. This book consciously seeks to avoid the mentality of “trade-offs,” where pro-development advocates view conservation efforts as impediments and conservationists are convinced that development inevitably leads to a loss for nature. Instead, through an evaluation of opportunities in the still pristine forests of the Cardamom Mountains and surrounding landscapes, the author seeks to demonstrate that wise management of a nation’s renewable natural resources can facilitate economic growth. Resolving the Cardamom Conundrum requires an economic model that provides robust growth, and that alleviates poverty over the short term and eradicates it over the medium term. Any other solution is impractical and morally unacceptable. The author points the way by indentifying innovative options linked to climate finance and low carbon development strategies that span the economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainable development.

Published by: NUS Press Pte Ltd

Half title, title, copyright pages

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Table of Contents

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pp. v-vi

List of Tables

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pp. vii-viii

List of Figures

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pp. ix-xix

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pp. xxi-xxvi

Cambodia is a remarkable, fascinating and admirable nation. It has a unique and rich cultural heritage and a modern history that provides important lessons for the planet. Th e Khmer have recovered from an extraordinarily brutal period of despotic governance and civil war and, in the process, shown the world how a postconflict society can pursue...

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pp. xxvii-xxviii

I would like to express my sincere appreciation to the Cambodian people for their openness and hospitality during my sojourn in their beautiful country. I am indebted to the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries and the Ministry of the Environment of the Kingdom of Cambodia for their support and access to vital information sources...

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Chapter 1. Introduction: The Cardamom Conundrum

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pp. 1-26

The word “conundrum” connotes a puzzle whose solution also represents a paradox. Resolving a conundrum requires thinking outside of the box, in untraditional ways, or in ways that may seem counter-intuitive. Cambodia’s “Cardamom Conundrum” represents the challenges inherent in identifying and implementing development...

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Chapter 2. Natural Landscapes

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pp. 27-64

The Greater Cardamom Region is perhaps the most dynamic region of Cambodia. It covers approximately one third of the country’s land surface and spans nine of its 24 provinces, including Koh Kong, Pursat, Battambang, Pailin, Sihanouk, Kampong Speu, Kampong Chhang, Kampot, and Kep. The natural habitats of this region form a complex network of interconnected...

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Chapter 3. Human Landscapes

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pp. 65-87

A fundamentally important piece of the Cardamom Conundrum is the well being of human residents of the region, whose needs in Cambodia’s post-conflict era continue to be the creation of economic opportunity to escape poverty and the development of acceptable levels of health and educational services. Cambodia is rebuilding its economy after decades of civil conflict and is making...

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Chapter 4. Institutional Landscapes

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pp. 88-109

Despite current high levels of poverty, growing prosperity looms on the horizon for Cambodia and the Greater Cardamom Region will make a significant and strategically important contribution to that prosperous future. The abundance of this region’s natural resources will form the cornerstone of the national economy, at least over the medium term, and its inhabitants

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Chapter 5. The Inevitability of Change

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pp. 110-166

Cambodia is changing. And this change is the result of a complex set of factors — from individuals acting locally to commodity markets influenced by policies in distant capitals. In many ways this change is positive and welcome: Cambodia experienced an annual growth rate of between 8 and 10 percent in the nine years prior to the economic downturn of 2009 (Figure 5.1). Cambodia is...

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Chapter 6. The Value of Nature

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pp. 167-215

The term “ecosystem services” has been coined to describe goods and services that natural or semi-natural habitats provide to human society. Many of these are essential for human well being and survival — most obviously clean air and water, but also fertile soils, natural fisheries and the carbon stored in both terrestrial and marine ecosystems...

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Chapter 7. The Cardamom Solution: Envisioning a Green Economy

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pp. 216-274

People across the globe have come to understand that global warming is a real phenomenon and not some remote hypothetical possibility. They see how extreme climate events can affect people’s lives, and they understand that future climate change represents a threat to our collective well-being. Global society is demanding change, which is now taking shape in international policy...

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Chapter 8. The Way Forward

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pp. 275-302

In the past, environmental advocates have argued for conservation largely on moral grounds, citing society’s obligation to protect our nature heritage; however, recent advances in the science of economics has shown that there are exceptionally strong bottom-line arguments for nature conservation.1 Th e resolution of the Cardamom Conundrum depends on Cambodia’s...


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pp. 303-327


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pp. 328-354

E-ISBN-13: 9789971696603
Print-ISBN-13: 9789971696146

Page Count: 352
Illustrations: 23 images
Publication Year: 2012

Edition: New