Conservation and Development in Cambodia: Exploring frontiers of change in nature, state and society, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Conservation and Development in Cambodia

Exploring frontiers of change in nature, state and society, 1st Edition

Edited by Sarah Milne, Sango Mahanty


292 pages | 20 B/W Illus.

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Paperback: 9781138304956
pub: 2017-06-16
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Written by leading authorities from Australasia, Europe and North America, this book examines the dynamic conflicts and synergies between nature conservation and human development in contemporary Cambodia.

After suffering conflict and stagnation in the late twentieth century, Cambodia has experienced an economic transformation in the last decade, with growth averaging almost ten per cent per year, partly through investment from China. However this rush for development has been coupled with tremendous social and environmental change which, although positive in some aspects, has led to rising inequality and profound shifts in the condition, ownership and management of natural resources. High deforestation rates, declining fish stocks, biodiversity loss, and alienation of indigenous and rural people from their land and traditional livelihoods are now matters of increasing local and international concern.

The book explores the social and political dimensions of these environmental changes in Cambodia, and of efforts to intervene in and ‘improve’ current trajectories for conservation and development. It provides a compelling analysis of the connections between nature, state and society, pointing to the key role of grassroots and non-state actors in shaping Cambodia’s frontiers of change. These insights will be of great interest to scholars of Southeast Asia and environment-development issues in general.


"Cambodia’s headlong 'development' since 1993 has given the country one of the highest growth rates in Asia. This clear-headed, disturbing and often poignant volume counts up the human and ecological costs of uncontrolled 'development', deforestation, land-grabbing, foreign intrusions and endemic corruption on Cambodia’s depleted landscape and on its distressed. resilient and long-suffering population." – David Chandler, Monash University, Australia.

"This is an important book, and not just for those interested in Cambodia’s environmental transformation. Empirically rich, it provides a powerful antidote to the comforting notion that economic growth can go hand-in-hand with environmental protection and this, in turn, with human development. Notwithstanding a few shards of hope, all-in-all this is a sobering volume that should be read by scholars, practitioners and officials alike."Jonathan Rigg, National University of Singapore.

"This is a fascinating international politico-environmental study… The achingly turbulent history of Cambodia compels one to think fundamentally afresh about how to connect people, state, nature and culture. This book offers some hope and provides extraordinary insights." - Des Thompson, BES Bulletin.

"This book would benefit to a broad range of scholars and activists working on political and development issues in Cambodia and indeed anybody interested in the many and rapid ways the country is changing." - Neil Loughlin, Newsletter Of The Association Of Southeast Asian Studies In The United Kingdom, SOAS, School of Oriental and African Studies.

Table of Contents

1. The Political Ecology of Cambodia’s Transformation

Sarah Milne and Sango Mahanty

2. Shackled to Nature? The Post-conflict State and its Symbiotic Relationship with Natural Resources

Sarah Milne, Pak Kimchoeun, and Michael Sullivan

Part 1: Transformation, Complexity and Contestation in Nature-Society Relations

3. Lost in Transition: Landscape, Ecological Gradients and Legibility on the Tonle Sap Floodplain

Andrew S. Roberts

4. Can Market Integration Improve Livelihoods and Safeguard the Environment? The Case of Hybrid Rice Varieties in Cambodia’s Agricultural Heartland

Maylee Thavat

5. Land is Life: An Analysis of the Role ‘Grand Corruption’ Plays in Enabling Elite Grabbing of Land in Cambodia

Megan MacInnes

6. Contested Development and Environment: Chinese-backed Hydropower and Infrastructure Projects in Cambodia

Michael Sullivan

Part 2: Interventions in Natural Resource Management

7. Managing Protected Areas in Cambodia: The Challenge for Conservation Bureaucracies in a Hostile Governance Environment

Richard Paley

8. In Whose Name and in Whose Interests? An Actor-oriented Analysis of Community Forestry in Bey, a Khmer village in Northeast Cambodia

Robin Biddulph

9. The Forest Carbon Commodity Chain in Cambodia’s Voluntary Carbon Market

Sango Mahanty, Amanda Bradley and Sarah Milne

Part 3: Social Movements and Radical Responses to Transformation

10. What about the ‘Unprotected’ Areas? Building on Traditional Forms of Ownership and Land Use for Dealing with New Contexts

Jeremy Ironside

11. Cultures and Histories of Resistance in Cambodia

Margaret Slocomb

12. A ‘People’s’ Irrigation Reservoir on the Tonle Sap Floodplain

John Marston and Chhuon Hoeur

13. Story-telling and Social Change: A Case Study of the Prey Lang Community Network

Terry Parnell

About the Editors

Sarah Milne is a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Resources, Environment and Development group, Crawford School of Public Policy, College of Asia and the Pacific, Australian National University.

Sango Mahanty is an ARC Future Fellow in the Resources, Environment and Development group, Crawford School of Public Policy, College of Asia and the Pacific, Australian National University.

About the Series

Earthscan Conservation and Development

Earthscan Conservation and Development
This series includes a wide range of inter-disciplinary approaches to conservation and development, integrating perspectives from both social and natural sciences. It includes textbooks, research monographs and titles aimed at professionals, NGOs and policy-makers. Authors or editors of potential new titles should contact Hannah Ferguson, Editor (

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
NATURE / Environmental Conservation & Protection