When I first visited southwest Cambodia’s Cardamom Mountains back in 2003, we drove all day on dirt roads and crossed rivers on precarious ferries made of several boats lashed together. The forest overhung the road; wild animals scurried for cover as we drove past.
More than a decade later, much has changed. The road is wide tarmac, a major connector to Thailand. The rivers have bridges. Much of the forest is degraded, and wildlife is scarce. Forest loss in this landscape is as high as 30% in some areas. Vast swaths of forest have been cleared illegally.
But within the boundaries of the Central Cardamom Protected Forest (CCPF), it’s a different story.