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USAID GREENING PREY LANG Northern Plains Landscape REDD+ Feasibility Assessment

Published by: Greening Prey Lang

The Northern Plains Landscape (NPL) of Cambodia encompasses the intersection of natural habitat, biodiversity, and people. A woven system of critical forests and wetlands, the landscape is home to Cambodia’s national bird, the endangered Giant Ibis, among other important species. The landscape is also marked by the effects of a human dynamic that is centered on the production of rice, cash crops, and non-timber forest products for subsistence and market. Ultimately, the effective conservation of the NPL must promote the importance of forests and wetlands while also lending support to sustainable production and livelihoods development.

Presently in the NPL, the effects of production and economic growth are often losses in habitat and biodiversity. Conservation initiatives to promote and protect natural resources led by Ministry of Environment (MoE) with the support of Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), USAID Greening Prey Lang (GPL), and other non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are laudable. Some measures provided by these initiatives have successfully mitigated the losses of natural habitats and provided for improvements in livelihoods. Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reductions realized by the avoided loss of forests as an outcome of these historical measures, along with supplemental measures targeted at further reducing emissions, are creditable under certain emissions crediting mechanisms. Expressing avoided emissions as metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (tCO2e), such measures may reduce more than 25 million tCO2e over a 30-year crediting period. When realized, emissions reductions may be sold to finance the conservation of the NPL. When verified to the requirements of a market-recognized mechanism such as the Verified Carbon Standard (VCS), buyers may pay a price premium to offset their emissions using these credits. Irrespective of the exact mechanism or the fundamental premise of an offset, such credit sales represent a new revenue stream for conservation finance that flows into sustainable livelihoods and the protection of critical forests, wetlands, and biodiversity. At present value, for the most likely scenario, the sale of credited emissions reductions represents more than US $143 million in conservation finance over 30 years, with approximately US $8.6 million over the first five years.

Framed as a REDD+ project, conservation finance from the sale of credits is highly sensitive to stakeholder support from MoE, local communities, WCS, and USAID GPL. Foremost, MoE must authorize the project and finalize a national system for REDD+ accounting in which the project may be credited. Without approval from MoE and coordination of the project with the national system, no authorized mechanism is available for crediting. Project measures to reduce emissions must be designed in consultation with local communities and to the benefit of improved livelihoods; otherwise, performance in crediting may be at risk. As the co-project developer, WCS must work closely with MoE and effectively with local communities to implement measures and reduce emissions. Effective implementation within communities requires targeted engagements according to a scalable implementation plan. At the outset of the project, it is imperative that limited financial resources be focused to reduce emissions in priority areas; otherwise, the project will risk non-performance in emissions reductions. It is also imperative to performance at the outset of the project that USAID GPL continue to subsidize MoE and WCS measures throughout the full extent of the protected area network forming the NPL and make new investments in the project to reduce emissions with the objective of ultimately unlocking the project cash flow using carbon revenues.

A well-designed REDD+ project and a functional national REDD+ system have the potential to create massive impact beyond the NPL. The proposed design as a grouped project under the VCS allows expansion to additional protected areas, subject to clear and agreed upon operational, management, and fiduciary responsibilities between all stakeholders. At a minimum, this approach can serve as an example for additional grouped projects elsewhere in Cambodia. In addition to and distinct from the NPL REDD+ Project, Phnom Thnout-Phnom Pok Wildlife Sanctuary (Phnom Thnout) is a potential application to replicate this approach. To preserve this new opportunity for Phnom Thnout, USAID GPL should consider designating special funding for emissions reductions measures in order to immediately establish an instance start date.

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Additional Info

Field Value
Document type Reports, journal articles, and research papers (including theses and dissertations)
Language of document
  • English
  • Climate change
  • Environmental and biodiversity protection
  • SDG13 Climate Action
Geographic area (spatial range)
  • Cambodia
Copyright Yes
Access and use constraints

The author’s views expressed in this publication do not necessarily reflect the views of the United States Agency for International Development or the United States Government.

Version / Edition final report
License Other (Public Domain)

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Co-author (individual) Kyle Holland, Jeff Silverman and Colin Moore
Co-author (coorporate) Tetra Tech and WCS
Publisher Tetra Tech
Publication date 2018
Pagination 76
Keywords Northern Plains Landscape,REDD+,climate financing
Date uploaded February 9, 2022, 01:29 (UTC)
Date modified February 12, 2022, 03:40 (UTC)