The Environment Ministry has canceled contracts for seven out of eight carbon credit projects that it approved between 2011 and 2013, dealing another blow to efforts to turn protected forests into a potential revenue stream for locals.
A statement issued by the ministry on Friday said one company would be allowed to continue its feasibility study, while contracts with seven other firms had been scrapped.
Srun Darith, deputy cabinet chief at the Environment Ministry, said the projects—which were all in the study stage—had been canceled because the companies were not making enough effort to start trading carbon.
“We decided to cancel seven projects because they applied with the Ministry of Environment asking to invest in the projects, but we have seen they have no real desire to do it,” he said.
Mr. Darith said he did not know the names of the companies that had their contracts canceled, but that one company that is working in Koh Kong and Pursat provinces had been given more time to submit a plan to the government.
The Environment Ministry and Agriculture Ministry have been part of U.N.-backed efforts to get Cambodia involved in a global forest-based carbon trading scheme in which environmentally conscious companies abroad offset their carbon emissions by paying developing countries to keep their carbon-hungry trees standing.
In theory, the revenue would be split between the government and local communities helping to protect the forests, but Cambodia has struggled to get any projects off the ground.
A program in Oddar Meanchey province that was expected to be the country’s first active carbon trading project has stumbled, with local officials saying last year that continued illegal logging in the area was undermining protection efforts.
However, Chhun Delux, deputy head of forest carbon credit and climate change at the Agriculture Ministry’s Forestry Administration, said that three carbon credit “demonstration projects” were still operating.
“The three projects are going well, but how they will go in the future we do not know,” he said.