The upper reaches of the Areng Valley are threatened by plans to build a hydroelectric dam that will inundate 10,000 hectares of the Central Cardamom Protected Forest which is habitat to at least 31 wildlife species that are globally threatened or nationally protected, including the endangered Siamese crocodile and Asian Arowana or Dragon Fish.

The dam will also flood nine Khmer Daeum villages and the homes of 1500 people,  and up to 10,000 ha of indigenous lands including sacred forests covering over 500 ha. The communities living in the Araeng Valley depend on its productive rice paddies, plantations, fish and the harvesting of non-timber forest products from the nearby evergreen forests, for their survival, including

The Khmer Daeum have deeply-held links with the natural environment which connect them to village life through local Buddhist and animist beliefs. For example, the  ‘Neak Ta’, or forest spirits, are believed to inhabit the forest, waterways and wildlife of the valley. Any forced migration of the Khmer Daeum from this valley will break this connection and will have deep social repercussions for a people who are spiritually linked to the forest and the valley.

The effects of the proposed dam on downstream ecosystems will also be severe.  Alteration of monsoonal river flows has the potential to drastically reduce rice yields in approximately 1500 ha of paddy in the coastal zone. This will directly affect the livelihoods of an additional 1800 people.
Construction of the dam will lead to a dramatic increase of roads into the area and a massive arrival of workers. These factors will vastly increase the levels of illegal fishing, poaching and logging within the inundation zone and the greater Central Cardamoms Protected Forest, which will put many rare species (e.g., clouded leopards, bears, gaur) at increased risk. This dramatic increase in access to the Cardamom Mountains is certain to have serious consequences for its rare wildlife and precious forests.

Click here for a more detailed list of what effects the dam will cause

Unlike other dams proposed for the region, this dam will flood a broad, flat valley that is densely populated and includes the richest agricultural land in southwest Cambodia as well as some of Cambodia’s rarest and most threatened wildlife. The environmental and social damage relative to the amount of power generated is therefore disproportionately high.

For a thorough summary of the impacts of the proposed Areng Valley dam see Summary of Social and Environmental Impacts of Araeng Dam by JICA

Click here for a map detailing the diversity of forest types and land uses that will be lost if the dam proceeds.

Below is a map showing how the inundation zone will encroach well into the CCPF.

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