Forest and Land Fire Prevention in Cambodia

by Hour Limchhun, Vice-Chief of Planning and Accounting Office,
Department of Forestry and Wildlife, Cambodia


  • Total areas: 181,155km2
  • People 10.2millions with a population growth rate of 2.8%
  • 85% of the people are rural farmers who depend on agriculture and forest products for their subsistence
  • Forest cover in1969 - 73% but reduce to 58% in 1997. As resulted from growing population, increase of shifting cultivation, fuel wood harvesting, logging and fire.


  • Tropical climate influenced by the tropical monsoon
  • Two main seasons: rainy and dry
  • Average annual rainfall ranges from 1500 mm to 3000mm
  • Average annual temperature ranges 25 -30 degree C

Root Causes of forest fire

  • Fire spreading from shifting cultivation
  • Setting of fire just before rains in open lands close to forests to promote grass growth with the rains for feeding cattle.
  • Setting of fire underneath Dipterocarp trees to obtain higher yield of resin from the tree
  • Setting of fire to trap or poaching wildlife or chase away bees to collect honey
  • Setting of fire from throwing cigarette light butt or other fire along forest roads and boundaries of forest or in the forest
  • Carelessness of people abandoning cooking fires

Fire prevention measures

  • Every year each province has to establish a forest fire commission during the dry season which includes Provincial, District, Village and forestry authorities
  • Cooperation and active involvement of local communities, the private sectors
  • Local communities live near or in the forest has responsibility to assist in the suppression of fires and report to nearest forest or local authorities
  • Member of public, students, monks, police and armed forces should assist forest authority in the suppression fire
  • Those who set fires intentionally will be arrested and sent to the prison for 5-10 years (Forest Law)
  • Posters displayed at local markets, in museums, along heavily traveled roads and trails are often effective ways to convey fire prevention messages to the public.
  • Forest fire prevention education programmes are provided to communities villager, schools and universities
  • Public information and education programmes utilize the media (television, radio, newspapers, posters)
  • Identification of forest areas with high fire risk
  • Protection of these forests by surrounding them with fire lines
  • Promote the active participation of concession holders, contractors, local communities on the base of their capabilities and their enhancement through fire management training in fire, provision of appropriate equipment and incentives whenever feasible


  • Forest and Land Fire in Cambodia are not considered as a serious threat to the forest area but it can be the main issue in the near future. It, however, occurs every year and damages many hectares of forests.
  • The DFW has little possibility to put out forest fire, whenever it is happened due to lacking of expertise, funding and equipment.
  • It is a matter of fact that forest fires can be prevented by an enhanced knowledge of the local community.
  • Training on forest fire prevention to the local community is very important
  • Forest Law enforcement is necessary.

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