Chi Phat is becoming a premier ecotourism destination for travelers looking for a pristine experience in Cambodia. Recently Community-Based Ecotourism (CBET) in the Cardamoms has been featured in Lonely Planet, UK Metro magazine, Wall Street Journal, Swiss La Temps newspaper, Fah Thai on board magazine, EPA European Photo Agency and other publications.
Thanks to your support 2010 has been an impressive year for Wildlife Alliance’s Community-Based Ecotourism commune in Chi Phat. Chi Phat itself has seen a 54% increase in visitation, and a 65% increase in income generation. Also 92% of visitors rated their time in Chi Phat as “Excellent” or “Good”, 85% felt that the tours were a good value and 86% would recommend the site to a friend.
Chi Phat’s success is what will allow communities to thrive, ecosystems and forests to be preserved, and wildlife to be protected. Thanks to the growing ecotourism industry, villages and local communities are benefitting from conserving their natural heritage.
We thank you for understanding the importance of this endeavor and we encourage you to visit Chi Phat if you are traveling in Cambodia or Southeast Asia. Chi Phat offers opportunities to mountain bike, bird watch, trek to cultural heritage sites and eat homemade Cambodian food. Learn how to get to Chi Phat by checking out our website. We look forward to seeing you there and thank you for your support.
We will make sure to keep you up to date on the developments with our Community-Based Ecotourism project. In the meantime though please follow us on Twitter, Facebook and keep an eye on our blog for timely information regarding this and other projects.
Thank you again for your much needed support. We at Wildlife Alliance wish you the best for the Holiday Season and the New Year.
Van Sophon once earned a living illegally poaching and logging, but began working with Wildlife Alliance's Community Based Ecotourism project in Chi Phat almost four years ago. He was recently promoted to be a deputy of community. In his own words:
"My name is Van Sophon. I have worked as a deputy accountant for almost four years and recently I have been promoted to be a deputy chief of community. My past life before working with CBET, I was a poacher. I went poaching, cut down the trees, and collected the non-timber forest product to support my family for a living.
After I was told by the village chief about the CBET project, as I was interested to get involved I applied and started working with CBET as a member of the first CBET working group and since then I have been working with CBET, I have stopped hunting and logging. I have learned a lot from the project, such as English, computer, financial management, and general knowledge related to tourism. Moreover, I am provided many trainings and I am also awarded the certificate of achievement from accounting management training and a certificate of appreciation from NGO that funded this project.
I have many great opportunities to attend the meetings and seminars in Phnom Penh. All of these make me very excited and happy.
Today I have a better livelihood and I am able to work with Khmer and international tourists in the tourism field.
I would like to express my profound thank to Wildlife Alliance that is supporting our community with financial, materials, and training.
I wish that we, the community of Chi Phat together with WILDLIFE ALLIANCE and other partners will accomplish the CBET goals."
Thanks again for everyone's support on the recent Global Giving Matching Day!
Attached is the latest coverage of Wildlife Alliance's Community-based eco-tourism project in Chi Phat, enjoy!
Below is an article, written in Spanish, about Wildlife Alliance's Ecoutourism project in Chi Pat. It also mentions our hard working rangers who patrol the forest, protecting the trees and animals from poachers.
La raquítica aldea de Chi Pat, reducto de selva virgen, tigres y elefantes
Por Agencia EFE – 20/04/2010
Chi Pat (Camboya), 20 abr (EFE).- La raquítica aldea de Chi Pat, en el corazón de las montañas Cardamon, es uno de los últimos reductos de selva virgen en Camboya y hábitat de animales en peligro de extinción como el tigre, el elefante y el oso asiático.
El ecoturismo apareció un día en esa población que se ilumina aún con generadores como una salida con futuro para los habitantes y su hermoso entorno de ríos, cascadas y bosques.
"Todos los habitantes eran leñadores y cazadores. No tenían otra forma de vida. Ahora toda la comunidad está implicada en el proyecto", explica Yan Veasna, monitor de Wildlife Alliance, organización no gubernamental que puso en marcha el programa en 2008.
Caminatas por la selva, excursiones en bicicleta de montaña, navegación por el río, aves de todos los colores son algunas de las actividades que ofrece el proyecto gestionado totalmente por los vecinos con la ayuda de Wildlife Alliance.
Phrom Hang llegó a la aldea directamente de los campos de arroz del Jemer Rojo en 1979 y vivió de la caza furtiva hasta que surgió esta iniciativa.
"Cazaba ciervos, pangolines. También capturé dos tigres. Lo vendía a un comerciante que se lo llevaba a Phnom Penh", explica Hang, quien ahora desempeña el cargo de director del proyecto dedicado a proteger la fauna y perseguir a sus antiguos colegas.
"Durante los noventa, la caza era masiva. Con un kilo de pangolín se ganaba cincuenta dólares y esto atrajo a mucha gente", apunta Veasna.
La medicina tradicional china atribuye a la carne, huesos, órganos y pieles de estos animales propiedades especiales que sustentan el contrabando, del que Hang se lucraba generosamente pero que no echa en falta.
"Pasaba varios días en la selva. Era muy duro. Ahora gano suficiente dinero, aprendo cosas y puedo estar siempre con mi familia", dice el ex cazador, elegido para el cargo por todos su vecinos.
La comunidad se beneficia de la llegada de turistas ofreciendo alojamiento, transporte, haciendo de guías o guardas forestales; en total son 550 las familias que viven del ecoturismo en la actualidad.
"La clave del proyecto fue darles trabajo, mostrarles que había otra manera de ganarse la vida", manifiesta Veasna.
En Chi Pat, el atractivo para el visitante radica en un paisaje virgen que esconde cascadas o rarezas arqueológicas como un conjunto de urnas y cofres funerarios metidos en una brecha pétrea que no fue descubierto hasta 1984.
Si bien el proyecto consiguió dotar a esta empobrecida comunidad de una fuente de recursos, la vocación proteccionista ha tenido un éxito relativo.
"Sigue viniendo gente de fuera a cazar. Monos, sobretodo. Tenemos un equipo de rangers que patrulla a diario pero sólo con un teléfono móvil les es muy fácil darnos esquinazo", dice Veasna.
Aun así, el ejemplo de la aldea Chi Pat empieza a extenderse por el país.
En el otro extremo de Camboya se encuentra Koh Pdau, una isla del río Mekong habitada por pescadores a quienes las autoridades les han prohibido la pesca a fin de proteger el delfín irrawaddy, el único de agua dulce del mundo y del que quedan apenas 71 ejemplares.
Tras la veda, los lugareños buscaron una salida en el ecoturismo y ahora buscan al cetáceo no para matarlo, sino para que entretenga a los visitantes.
"No sólo dan alojamiento y ofrecen paseos en barca. Se les ha ayudado a desarrollar agricultura y piscifactorías, o a producir manualidades que venden a los turistas", dice Som Mao, técnico del equipo de Desarrollo Rural del gobierno camboyano.
© EFE 2010. Está expresamente prohibida la redistribución y la redifusión de todo o parte de los contenidos de los servicios de Efe, sin previo y expreso consentimiento de la Agencia EFE S.A.
Originally Published by The Phnom Penh Post
A new breed of socially conscious architecture is springing up all over the developing world. Since ancient times, architects have primarily worked in service of the wealthy and powerful, designing and inventing methods of building everything from Angkor Wat in Siem Reap to the skyscrapers of Hong Kong. In the past decade a handful of architects working across the globe have emerged from the shadows, setting aside the mantle of high design to focus on the fundamental issues of poverty alleviation, community empowerment and sustainability.
In 2001, Hollmen Reuter Sandman Architects established an NGO based in Finland called Ukumbi. Ukumbi set to work in Rufisque, Senegal, designing and building an internationally acclaimed centre for women. One tenet of Ukumbi’s design philosophy is that “architecture grows most naturally from familiarity with local culture and an understanding of local spatial thinking”. Hollmen Reuter Sandman are not alone in identifying the important role culture plays in sustainable design. Other notable architects and champions of this new approach are Francis Kere of Burkina Faso, and Anna Heringer, an architect working in Bangladesh.
Both Kere and Heringer are recipients of the prestigious Aga Khan award, which was set up to applaud outstanding sustainable design in the Muslim world. A common thread between these architects, and the growing number of others inspired by them, is their effort to involve the community from the very beginning and to truly understand the subtleties of different cultures’ dwelling practices.
In a world where big development often subdues seemingly small local issues, the new social architecture works from the outset to build a platform for intensive community participation. Communities are involved in every step of the process, learning from and teaching the architects how to best meet their needs. Often communities are involved in the actual construction process, simultaneously strengthening and sometimes reviving their own traditional building techniques for future generations. This give and take method of working between community, culture, design and invention clears a space for new solutions to be discovered and put into action against poverty.
In a time when a significant percentage of all global emissions are generated by the construction industry, the philosophy of a new social architect tirelessly seeks out local sustainable building materials such as earth, stone, bamboo and geographically specific plants that can be harvested for thatching roofs and reinforcing walls. When modern industrial materials such as concrete and steel must be used, they are balanced by recycling local waste to fantastic effect. For Ukumbi a grid of old car wheels placed within a wall become an elegant ventilation solution; old glass soda bottles become pixilated points of colour, ushering light into a building and eliminating the need for expensive and imported glass windows.
TYIN Tegnestue, a non-profit design group based in Norway, has ingeniously recycled old truck tyres into urinals and toilets for a bathhouse located in a Karen orphanage along the Thai-Burmese border. A recently completed project in the Cambodian village of Chi Phat in Koh Kong Province now has its own social architecture project to show the world. The community based ecotourism office, otherwise known as CBET, is a joint venture between Wildlife Alliance and the community of Chi Phat. This recently completed 500-square-metre building is one of the first examples of a bamboo structure in Cambodia that elevates the material to its full capacity. The raw material was harvested directly from the village and over a two year time span community members soaked the bamboo in water with minerals to increase its durability. A combination of design expertise from SM Architects Cambodia, construction methodology and demonstrations from bamboo expert Jorg Stamm, and the hard work and local knowledge of the Chi Phat community, CBET was able to create a truly sustainable structure to support a growing interest in ecotourism in the area.
As Cambodia continues to rapidly develop, I hope to see more architects creating socially responsible and sustainable projects in the Kingdom. Surely by directing our attention to this beautiful culture and the needs of the people, we can all contribute to this noble endeavour, if only by spreading the word.
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Communications and Finance Field Liaison