Cambodia Table of Contents
In late 1969, the Cambodian government granted a permit to a French company to explore for petroleum in the Gulf of Thailand. By 1972 none had been located, and exploration ceased when the Khmer Republic (see Appendix B) fell in 1975. Subsequent oil and gas discoveries in the Gulf of Thailand and in the South China Sea, however, could spark renewed interest in Cambodia's offshore area, especially because the country is on the same continental shelf as its Southeast Asian oil-producing neighbors.
Another natural resource is the forests, which cover approximately 70 percent of the country and which potentially constitute a second pillar of the economy in addition to the primary one, agriculture (see table 5). A survey in the 1960s disclosed that Cambodia had more than 13 million hectares of forests that contained many species of tropical growth and trees but not teak or other valuable sources of hardwood. Some destruction of the forest environment undoubtedly occurred in the war that followed in the 1970s, but its extent has not been determined. Most of the heavy fighting took place in areas uncovered by dense tropical jungle. As of late 1987, forest resources had not yet been fully exploited because of poor security in the countryside and a lack of electrical and mechanical equipment, such as power tools and lumber trucks. Nevertheless, the Cambodian government reportedly has discussed with Vietnam the possibility of coordinated reforestation programs.
Timber and firewood are the main forest products. Timber is considered one of the four economic initiatives of the government's First Plan. Timber production was projected to reach a peak of 200,000 cubic meters in 1990.
Data as of December 1987