The expansion of agricultural land through the clearing of forests by pioneer peasants, which was observed in northeastern Thailand in the twentieth century, has been occurring in mountainous areas of Cambodia in the twenty-first century. In this study, we clarified strategies and behaviors of immigrant peasant farmers in the Veal Veng Plateau, which was cleared of residents by the forced relocation during the Pol Pot period. Migrants from all over Cambodia rushed to this uninhabited region after the civil war. On-site interview surveys and analysis of satellite remote sensing data indicated that peasant farmers who rushed into the study area from around 2000 preferred to clear evergreen forests, which were suitable for cash crop cultivation. Land that was unsuitable for cash crops but suitable for rice paddy was left uncleared until around 2015. This was a drastic change from the self-sufficient agriculture carried out by the Khmer Rouge soldiers who had earlier occupied the study area. Such rapid and uniform changes in livelihoods and survival strategies have never appeared in other parts of continental Southeast Asia. It can be concluded that society in the study area was created by pioneer farmers who came with the global economy.
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