Green territoriality and resource extraction in Cambodia

TitleGreen territoriality and resource extraction in Cambodia
Annotated RecordNot Annotated
Year of Publication2023
AuthorsMilne S, Frewer T, Mahanty S
Secondary AuthorsNeef A, Ngin C, Moreda T, Mollet S
Secondary TitleRoutledge Handbook of Global Land and Resource Grabbing
Place PublishedLondon
Key themesCivilSociety-Donors, Dispossession-grabbing, Environment, Policy-law

The case of Cambodia in many ways exemplifies the phenomenon of “green grabbing” in the Global South. Green grabbing – which involves acts of territorialisation that alienate land and appropriate resources for environmental ends – is especially evident in 2016 reforms to Cambodia’s Protected Area System. These reforms have consolidated and expanded natural areas slated for protection, so that over 40% of the country’s surface area is now zoned for conservation. This high rate of green territorialisation demands investigation, given Cambodia’s significant experiences with land grabbing and deforestation. To investigate this, we draw from empirical material on conservation projects in Cambodia, observing: the often fanciful deployment of mechanisms like REDD+, to secure carbon finance; and routine protected area management by government officials, often with the backing of international donors and non-government organisations. Finally, we reflect upon the Cambodian government’s motives for green territorialisation, arguing that it creates new frontiers for resource control and extraction, which ultimately serve the agendas of state control and elite accumulation. Abundant evidence of illegal logging and extractive practices in Cambodia’s protected areas corroborates this. Cambodia’s green grabbing phenomenon therefore entails a state-orchestrated nexus between protection and extraction, presided over by international environmental actors.


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