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Disincentivizing forest and wetland clearing and unsustainable farming

Cambodia Preah Vihear, Stung Treng, and Mondulkiri provinces

Farmers are compensated for implementing more sustainable agriculture practices and avoiding deforestation and wetland clearing with a guaranteed high premium on rice.

Nature-based Intervention:

The IBIS Rice approach was introduced in 2009 in three provinces in northern Cambodia. The program provides farmers with higher quality traditional rice varieties and incentives for avoided forest and wetland clearance. More precisely, farmers are ensured a 40% premium above market price on their rice. Further sustainable agricultural practices have been introduced including the planting of cover crops to improve soil fertility and water retention.

Overview of context and outcomes:

Communities in the forests and wetlands of northern Cambodia rely on rain-fed paddy or upland rice fields for food and income security. However, increasingly unpredictable rainfall patterns are jeopardising the stability of these livelihoods. This challenge is compounded by poor water retention in soils as a result of unsustainable agricultural practices and a lack of quality seeds tolerant to changing climate conditions.

Case effectiveness on

Climate change

Mitigation: Not reported

Although not reported, it is likely that avoided deforestation could contribute to climate change mitigation at a small scale.

Adaptation: Positive

To respond to increasingly unpredictable agricultural yields, 1,400 households have reportedly been given high-quality seeds that can be replaced in the case of flood or drought. Additionally, green manure crops were planted on more than 800 hectares of farmland reportedly improving water retention and yields.

Ecosystem health

Ecological effect: Positive

A decrease in natural resource and landscape exploitation by forest clearing and hunting has been observed. Farmers participating in the IBIS Rice project are reported to be four times less likely to clear areas of forest for agriculture than other farmers.

Socioeconomic outcomes

Households participating in the IBIS Rice program have reported increased annual earnings and rice surpluses. More precisely, the average annual earnings of program participants in the time period between 2015 and 2017 more than doubled as compared to the period between 2009 to 2011.


The program is governed in coalition between the the Wildlife Conservation Society, The Ministry for the Environment, The local NGO Sansom Mlup Prey, and the IBIS Rice Conservation Co., Ltd.


Funding for the project was provided by the IBIS Rice Conservation Co., Ltd with support in facilitation by the Wildlife Conservation Society.

Monitoring and evaluation

The Wildlife Conservation Society took charge of monitoring the status of landscape management and programme compliance.

Trade-offs and limitations

No information yet available on tradeoffs.

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Rice fields in Cambodia
Photo © Boudewijn Huysmans

Intervention type

  • Food production
  • Protection
Targets poor/disadvantaged

Ecosystem type

  • Tropical & subtropical forests
  • Terrestrial production

Climate change impacts addressed

  • Loss of food production
  • Reduced water availability


  • International conservation/environment organization
  • Local NGO or CBO (eg. indigenous)
  • Local private sector
  • National government/agency

Societal challenges

  • Biodiversity conservation
  • Climate change adaptation
  • Disaster risk reduction
  • Economic and Social development
  • Food security
  • Water security


  • Food security: Positive
  • Water security: Positive
  • Health: Not reported
  • Local economics: Positive
  • Livelihoods/goods/basic needs: Not reported
  • Energy security: Not reported
  • Disaster risk reduction: Positive
  • Rights/empowerment/equality: Not reported
  • Conflict and security: Positive
  • No. developmental outcomes reported: 5


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Literature info

  • Grey literature
Case methodology not reported