Common and private property linkages in the low-land forest fishery farming systems of Cambodia

The majority of the population of north west Cambodia is dependent on subsistence farming foraging systems. Forests, fishery and farming are the main resource bases. The self-sustaining peasant type households draw their food and livelihood from a combination of activities such as farming and hunting-gathering of fish, wildlife and wood materials. This system of utilisation of common and private property has evolved over centuries and has ensured two things. First, it enabled an optimum utilisation of labor within households consisting of men, women and children. Secondly, as the capacity of private property is limited, natural resources acted as a buffer and the nature of resources distribution was more equitable. In post civil war Cambodia, after several decades of social and political conflicts, the pattern of dependence on the common property resources does not appear to have changed very significantly. Although, external forces like market, new technologies and development interventions are putting a lot of pressure on the common and private property utilisation systems. These interventions are quite large in the context of the post war population boom and increased commercial activities. This paper analyses the impact of some of these interventions in terms of how they will affect the balance in gender participation in household economic activities as well as the income distribution and equity. Increased pressure for exploitation of fishery and forestry resources has already created an imbalance in the traditionally established ecological economic equilibrium of common and private property resource systems. The paper concludes that technological interventions must maintain a balance in the resource population relationships. There is a strong need to understand existing linkages between private and common property resources and their use in the context of development interventions in the low land forest fishery farming systems.


Shams, N., Ahmed, M. (2000)
Journal of Sustainable Agriculture 15(4) 2000 pp. 59-87