Cambodia is a small country in South East Asia, however, it is experiencing some of the highest levels of deforestation in the world posing significant issues for poverty rates in the country. Forest area accounts for 45.7% of the country, while nearly 61% of the population lives in rural areas placing the vast majority of Cambodians in direct contact with the high levels of deforestation occurring in the country.
Cambodian deforestation and poverty relate as the loss of Cambodia’s forestry denies Cambodians a crucial resource for employment and commercial activity that many in Cambodia depend on. In 2021, 22.8% of Cambodian GDP involves agriculture, forestry and fishing industries compared to the global average of 3.5%.
Cambodia also relies on its vast forestlands for ecotourism, representing the majority of the 21% of Cambodia’s GDP being tourism in 2019, attracting over 2 million tourists that same year. Overall, 77% of Cambodians rely on forest resources for economic and agricultural purposes, according to USAID.