Assessment of Local Community Perceptions of Biodiversity Conservation in the 3S Rivers of Cambodia: Using a Knowledge, Attitudes, and Practices (KAP) Approach

  • Seak SophatEmail author
  • Phat Chandara
  • Andrea H. Claassen
Part of the Advances in Global Change Research book series (AGLO, volume 64)


The Sekong, Sesan, and Srepok (3S) Rivers in Southeast Asia provide critical habitat for wildlife and support many threatened species. The Sesan and Sekong Rivers are regarded as Important Bird Areas, which recognizes their exceptional avian diversity and critical role in supporting waterbird populations. Additionally, these rivers provide diverse natural resources and ecosystem services that support the livelihoods of millions of people of riparian countries. However, the 3S Rivers are under severe threat from hydropower development, habitat destruction, economic land concessions, extractive industries, and illegal logging. In response to these threats, a community-based conservation program was implemented for waterbirds that utilized direct payments to communities for bird nest protection. Community participation is key to effective biodiversity conservation. However, few studies have assessed local perceptions of community-based conservation programs. Therefore, we conducted a knowledge, attitudes, and practices survey of selected communities along the 3S Rivers to understand community perceptions about the nest protection program. According to the local communities, waterbird populations increased and threats decreased as a result of the program. Overall, communities had positive impressions of the program and believed the program provided them with significant livelihood benefits. The results of this research will be used as educational and diagnostic tools to assess the effectiveness of the conservation program to meet community needs and to be able to improve this and other such community-based programs in the future.


Biodiversity conservation KAP survey Payments for ecosystem services 3S Rivers 



We would like to thank all of our partner agencies and organizations. Specifically, we would like to thank the Cambodian Forestry and Fisheries Administrations and the Ministry of Environment, as well as the Stung Treng and Ratanakiri provincial Forestry and Fisheries Cantonments. Our heartfelt gratitude goes to local communities, district and commune authorities for administrative support and facilitation of project implementation. We are grateful to our partner organizations, including BirdLife International, 3S River Protection Network, Culture and Environment Preservation Association, and Wildlife Conservation Cambodia. Furthermore, we would like to thank the members of our project team, including Sok Samet, Yen Run, Ouch Mara, Pheung Sophea, and Leang Sovichea. This project would not have been possible without the support and participation of the local communities along the 3S Rivers. Funding for this project was generously provided by the MacArthur Foundation and the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund.


  1. Alreck, P. L., & Settle, R. B. (1995). The survey research handbook: Guidelines and strategies for conducting a survey (2nd ed.). Chicago: Irwin.Google Scholar
  2. Arias, M. E., Piman, T., Lauri, H., Cochrane, T. A., & Kummu, M. (2014). Dams on Mekong tributaries as significant contributors of hydrological alterations to the Tonle Sap floodplain in Cambodia. Hydrology and Earth System Science, 18(12), 5303–5315.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Baird, I. G., & Meach, M. (2005). Sesan river fisheries monitoring in Ratanakiri province, Northeast Cambodia: Before and after the construction of the Yali Falls dam in the central highlands of Vietnam. Ban Lung: 3S Rivers Protection Network (3SPN), Global Association for People and the Environment (GAPE).Google Scholar
  4. Baird, I. G., Baird, M., Cheath, C. M., Kim, S., Mekradee, N., Sounith, P., Nyok, P. B., Sarim, P., Savdee, R., Rushton, H., & Phen, S. (2002). A community-based study of the downstream impacts of the Yali Falls dam along the Se San, Sre Pok and Se Kong Rivers in Stung Treng Province, Northeast Cambodia. Cambodia: Se San Protection Network Project, Partners For Development (PFD), Non Timber Forest Products Project (NTFP), Se San District Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Office, Stung Treng District Office Cambodia.Google Scholar
  5. Baran, E., Samadee, S., Teoh, S. J., & Tran, T .C. (2013). Fish and fisheries in the Sekong, Sesan and Srepok basins (3S rivers, Mekong watershed), with special reference to the Sesan river. Project report: Challenge program on water and food Mekong project MK3. Optimizing the management of a cascade of reservoirs at the catchment level. International Centre for Environmental Management (ICEM), Hanoi.Google Scholar
  6. Bezuijen, M. R., Timmins, R., & Seng, T. (Eds.). (2008). Biological surveys of the Mekong River between Kratie and Stung Treng towns, Northeast Cambodia, 2006–2007. Phnom Penh: World Wildlife Fund Greater Mekong – Cambodia Country Programme, Cambodia Fisheries Administration, Cambodia Forestry Administration.Google Scholar
  7. Bowling, A. (2005). Mode of questionnaire administration can have serious effects on data quality. Journal of Public Health, 27(3), 281–291.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Chenail, R. J. (2011). Interviewing the investigator: Strategies for addressing instrumentation and researcher bias concerns in qualitative research. Qualitative Report, 16(1), 255–262.Google Scholar
  9. Chinnak, S. (2006). Natural resources for development and the destiny of marginal groups: A case study of indigenous people in Rattanakiri Province, Cambodia. In: JCAS Symposium Series, number 25 (pp. 135–148). National Museum of Ethnology, Japan Center for Area Studies.Google Scholar
  10. Claassen, A. H. (2004). Abundance, distribution, and reproductive success of sandbar nesting birds below the Yali Falls hydropower dam on the Sesan River, Northeastern Cambodia. Phnom Penh: World Wildlife Fund, Danida, WCS and BirdLife International.Google Scholar
  11. Claassen, A. H., Sok, K., Arnold, T. W., & Cuthbert, F. J. (2017). Effectiveness of direct payments to increase reproductive success of sandbar-nesting river birds in Cambodia. Bird Conservation International, 27(4), 495–511.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Claassen, A. H., Forester, J. D., Arnold, T. W., & Cuthbert, F. J. (2018). Consequences of multi-scale habitat selection on reproductive success of riverine sandbar-nesting birds in Cambodia. Avian Biology Research, 11(2), 108–122.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Clements, T., John, A., Nielsen, K., An, D., Tan, S., & Milner-Gulland, E. J. (2010). Payments for biodiversity conservation in the context of weak institutions: Comparison of three programs from Cambodia. Ecological Economics, 69(6), 1283–1291.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Clements, T., Rainey, H., An, D., Rours, V., Tan, S., Thong, S., Sutherland, W. J., & Milner-Gulland, E. J. (2013). An evaluation of the effectiveness of a direct payment for biodiversity conservation: The bird nest protection program in the Northern Plains of Cambodia. Biological Conservation, 157, 50–59.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Ferraro, P. J., & Kiss, A. (2002). Direct payments to conserve biodiversity. Science, 298(5599), 1718–1719.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Gjertsen, H., & Niesten, E. (2010). Incentive-based approaches in marine conservation: Applications for sea turtles. Conservation and Society, 8(1), 5–14.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Goes, F. (2013). The birds of Cambodia: An annotated checklist. Cambodia: Centre for Biodiversity Conservation, Fauna and Flora International Cambodia Program, and Royal University of Phnom Penh.Google Scholar
  18. Goes, F., Claassen, A., & Nielsen, H. (2010). Obituary to the black-bellied tern. Cambodian Journal of National History, 2010, 5–6.Google Scholar
  19. Grimsditch, M. (2012). 3S rivers under threat: Understanding new threats and challenges from hydropower development to biodiversity and community rights in the 3S River Basin. Ban Lung: 3S Rivers Protection Network.Google Scholar
  20. Gumucio, S. (2011). The KAP survey model: Knowledge, attitude, and practices. Paris: Medecins du Monde.Google Scholar
  21. Johnson, T., Kulesa, P., Cho, Y. I., & Shavitt, S. (2005). The relation between culture and response styles: Evidence from 19 countries. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 36(2), 264–277.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Milne, S., & Chervier, C. (2014). A review of payments for environmental services (PES) experiences in Cambodia. Indonesia: CIFOR.Google Scholar
  23. MRC. (2010). State of the basin report 2010. Vientiane: Mekong River Commission.Google Scholar
  24. National Institute of Statistics. (2010). Cambodia Demography. Accessed 22 June 2018.Google Scholar
  25. NCDD. (2010). Commune database online. Accessed 5 June 2017.
  26. Petheram, L., & Campbell, B. M. (2010). Listening to locals on payments for environmental services. Journal of Environmental Management, 91(5), 1139–1149.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Piman, T., Cochrane, T. A., Arias, M. E., Green, A., & Dat, N. D. (2013). Assessment of flow changes from hydropower development and operations in Sekong, Sesan and Srepok rivers of the Mekong basin. Journal of Water Resources Planning, 139(6), 723–732.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Roscoe, J. T. (1975). Fundamental research statistics for the behavioural sciences (2nd ed.). New York: Holt Rinehart and Winston.Google Scholar
  29. Seak, S. (2015). Socio-economic development and transboundary issues in the Sesan, Sekong, and Srepok (3S) of the Lower Mekong Basin (LMB). Science Verse Science Direct, 26(2015), 1387–1407.Google Scholar
  30. Seng, K. H., Pech, B., Poole, C. M., Tordoff, A. W., Davidson, P., & Delattre, E. (2003). Directory of important bird areas in Cambodia: Key sites for conservation. Phnom Penh: Department of Forestry and Wildlife, Department of Nature Conservation and Protection, BirdLife International Indochina Program, Wildlife Conservation Society Cambodia Program.Google Scholar
  31. Sharman, S. J., & Powell, M. B. (2012). A comparison of adult witnesses’ suggestibility across various types of leading questions. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 26(1), 48–53.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Sok, K., Claassen, A. H., Wright, H. L., & Ryan, G. E. (2012). Waterbird nest protection on the Mekong River: A preliminary evaluation, with notes on the recovery and release of white-shouldered ibis Pseudibis davisoni chicks. Cambodian Journal of National History, 2012, 29–41.Google Scholar
  33. Timmins, R. J., & Men, S. (1998). A wildlife survey of the Tonle San and Tonle Srepok River basins in Northeastern Cambodia. Phnom Penh: Fauna and Flora International Indochina Program, Wildlife Protection Office, Department of Forestry.Google Scholar
  34. Winemiller, K. O., McIntyre, P. B., Castello, L., Fluet-Chouinard, E., Giarrizzo, T., Nam, S., Baird, I. G., Darwall, W., Lujan, N. K., Harrison, I., & Stiassny, M. L. J. (2016). Balancing hydropower and biodiversity in the Amazon, Congo, and Mekong. Science, 351(6269), 128–129.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Wright, H. L., Collar, N. J., Lake, I. R., Rours Vann, R., Sok, K., Phearun, S., & Dolman, P. M. (2013). Experimental test of a conservation intervention for a highly threatened waterbird. Journal of Wildlife Management, 77(8), 1610–1617.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Wyatt, A. B., & Baird, I. G. (2007). Transboundary impact assessment in the Sesan River basin: The case of the Yali Falls dam. International Journal of Water Resources Development, 23(3), 427–442.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Ziv, G., Baran, E., So, N., Rodríguez-Iturb, I., & Levina, S. A. (2012). Trading-off fish biodiversity, food security, and hydropower in the Mekong River Basin. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 109(15), 5609–5614.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Seak Sophat
    • 1
    Email author
  • Phat Chandara
    • 1
  • Andrea H. Claassen
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Natural Resource Management and DevelopmentFaculty of Development Studies, Royal University of Phnom PenhPhnom PenhKingdom of Cambodia
  2. 2.Department of Fisheries, Wildlife, and Conservation BiologyUniversity of MinnesotaMinneapolisUSA

Personalised recommendations