According to a new study by Australia’s Griffith University, ecotourism can be the critical difference between the survival and the extinction of an endangered species. The study used models to evaluate the net impact of ecotourism on nine threatened species, and found conservation gains for seven of them. Now in its 9th year of operation, Wildlife Alliance continues to see significant success with our Community-Based Ecotourism (CBET) model in Chi Phat. Revenue and number of tourists have steadily increased over the years, and community members have been able to achieve long-term financial stability by operating eco-friendly guesthouses, home stays, and restaurants and working as trekking guides, boat operators, and taxi drivers. The increase in revenue has allowed the community to increase the number of forest patrols conducted by Community Rangers. Their anti-poaching efforts have led to the reduction in the number of traps laid by hunters in the forest, and has resulted in a greater observation and documentation of endangered animals and their tracks.
An added benefit of the program has been the spread of the concept of recycling and waste management. To improve the tourist experience, it became necessary for the community to address their inadequate waste management system. Local authorities and school principals showed a strong support for recycling in the community and a self-sustained youth group called The Chi Phat Green Ambassadors grew out of this interest. The Chi Phat Green Ambassadors are a local volunteer youth group made up of 8th and 9th grade students that meet with Wildlife Alliance staff to discuss and address various environmental concerns in the community. The group plays a key role in litter education and prevention, as well as clean-up initiatives in villages, along trails and at forest campsites. The group has made a significant impact in cleaning up Chi Phat, and we know they will take this experience with them as they go into high school. In the meantime, the next class is already geared up and excited to take over! Show your support by liking their Facebook page!
Thank you for making a difference for communities, forests and wildlife in Cambodia!
To help the community of Sovanna Baiton reach financial sustainability, Wildlife Alliance helped create a Community Orchard to increase income for community members through the cultivation of high-yield cash crops. The development of the Community Orchard began in 2013, and if projections bear out, the orchard should be fully supporting the community within 3-5 years.
Now in it’s third year of implementation, the communal plantation has seen sustained effective management with the implementation of field activities by the project team with support from the Agriculture Economic Development Committee of the Sovanna Baitong Agriculture Association. The 20-hectare fruit tree orchard has 3,564 trees consisting of durian, longan, rambutan, and jackfruit; most are two years old already. The fruit trees were intercropped with spinach, green spinach, radish and mustard green; also planted were 4,000 pineapples and 254 bananas.
Work at the plantation includes grass cleaning, plowing between the rows, applying fertilizer, fertigation, spraying, treating diseased sapling, and replacing dead saplings. The local people from the village received additional income to help complete this work.
Thanks to your generous support, the community of Sovanna Baitong is on its way to becoming self-sustaining. Farmers like, Nak Sok, who joined the project and gave up slash-and-burn farming in the forest now earn a steady income that has allowed them to build a new home for their large family, send their children to school and generate savings. Most importantly, the family has achieved a level of stability and financial success that they never dreamed would be possible when they lived in the forest.
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Located in the biodiverse-rich Cardamom Mountains, Wildlife Alliance has been working with the community of Chi Phat to develop nature-based ecotourism as an alternative to poaching and forest destruction. Recognized as an exemplar ecotourism site in Cambodia, Chi Phat’s popularity as an international destination has steadily been growing. However, as the community of Chi Phat continues to develop, there has also been an increase in the amount of waste generated. Unfortunately, infrastructure for waste management in Cambodia and in many parts of the developing world is extremely limited, and plastic and other waste material is increasingly becoming a major problem. In Chi Phat, this waste buildup is negatively affecting the 200 families that depend on ecotourism, as well as becoming a local public health hazard and environmental concern.
In order to address this escalating issue, Wildlife Alliance aims to implement a Zero Waste Strategy in the community. Through training workshops, waste sorting programs, education and the creation of recycling centers, the project will provide a system to reduce the amount of plastic and other waste from entering landfills, as well as raise awareness in the community on litter reduction, recycling and reusing. This will not only improve the quality of life for the community, but also lead to better natural resource conservation in the area. Successful implementation of this project will result in a litter free community, a reduction of methane into the atmosphere, an increase in ecotourism and economic benefits to the community; and ultimately, continued conservation of local forest and wildlife.
This has been an especially important project for Chi Phat's Community Development Officer, Touch Sophany. Sophany who has worked at Wildlife Alliance since 2009, was invited to participate as a community leader in the 2013 Community Solutions program. It was a professional development program that matches 58 global leaders with 55 American organizations to “improve their capacity for local community development and serve as ambassadors for increased mutual understanding.” Sophany partnered with Citizens’ Environmental Coalition in Houston, TX where he met with organizations involved in ecotourism, forestry, waste management and green school initiatives and learned about recycling markets, composting and community gardens. Sophany was one of 12 finalists, peer-selected from 58 projects to present his final project. His proposed project focused on implementing this zero waste strategy at Wildlife Alliance’s Community-Based Ecotourism project in Chi Phat.
As current Project Manager of the Ecotoursim Project, Sophany has been working on this Zero Waste strategy in the community since his return. We hope to help him realize this important goal by raising money to start the program.
We would like to thank you for supporting our community conservation projects in Cambodia. With your help we have been able to raise awareness about the effects of environmental destruction, while also creating alternative sustainable livelihoods to empower the community. We hope you'll help make sustainable waste management a reality for this community by donating to the micro fund created on GlobalGiving.
Tourism can have a profound impact on local communities. Irresponsible tourism can lead to social displacement, cultural degradation, economic dependence and environmental devastation. However, with a little effort and preparation, travelers can actually lift local communities out of poverty while protecting the cultural and environmental heritage of an area.
Each destination faces unique challenges and threats, and doing some research in advance will help you make smarter choices. The first step is picking a destination that promotes local culture, sustainable development, and responsible stewardship of natural sites. Choosing ecofriendly lodging that is locally owned and operated is another important and easy way to create a positive impact. Other simple initiatives you can take to be a better traveler include choosing responsible tour operators, respecting local cultures, and remembering the impact of your presence.
In Cambodia, Wildlife Alliance’s Community-Based Ecotourism (CBET) project helped the community of Chi Phat develop nature-based ecotourism in the Cardamom Mountain Range, one of Asia’s last untouched rainforests. The project has helped provide alternative, climate smart livelihoods to former wildlife poachers and slash-and-burn farmers. Not only is our CBET project helping stop the destruction of the forest, but it is also ensuring that future development will be sustainable for the community and the environment. Today, 80% of CBET members that hunted and logged in Chi Phat no longer do so. In 2014, Chi Phat received more visitors than ever before, and the project also won two prestigious awards recognizing their outstanding achievements. This year, your support has also helped create over 57 km of trails and two new camp sites.
Thank you for your continued support, to plan a trip to one of our project sites, click on the Visit Us tab on our website.
We would like to extend a special thank you to all the amazing donors that helped fund our campaign to empower Cambodian women for the environment. Thanks to your generosity and kindness, we will be able to provide these dedicated women with the resources they need to help improve their lives and the natural environment around them. We raised close to $1,300, which will provide them with the supplies and tools they need to continue their bi-monthly meetings.
On March 8th, we also celebrated the 104th International Women’s Day. Wildlife Alliance promotes gender equality in all our efforts as it also aligns with our mission to promote sustainable development. We understand that women are powerful agents of change in communities. They play the primary role in food production, healthcare, household nutrition, and have specific knowledge about the natural resources they depend upon for providing for their families.
Our field programs work with women to help them increase their earning power, and give them a voice in the community. At our Community-Based Ecotourism Project in Chi Phat, the most successful guest houses in this community are run by women. In the rural Cambodian village of Sovanna Baitong, where Wildlife Alliance’s Community Agriculture Development Project is located, women hold the majority of the leadership positions in the community. Of the 10 senior positions on the Agriculture Association – the body of community members that manages life in the village – 7 are held by women. This is quite remarkable, as according to the Cambodian National Institute of Statistics, the national average for women in managerial positions is only 9%. Women in Sovanna Baitong run groups like the Marketing Group, which sets prices for village goods in local markets; the Credit Group, which manages the Community Fund and loans to villagers; and the Education Group, which oversees educational facilities and curricula in the community. The Tropical Reforestation Project, which aims to reconnect fragmented forest cover in the Southern Cardamom Mountains, employs primarily women workers to work in our nursery and care for the saplings year-round. Not only do these women pay it forward by empowering their daughters and family members, but the pool of people committed to resource conservation is enlarged, children are raised with a conservation ethic, and a sustainable green economy is also realized.
Join us in congratulating these remarkable women for the vital work they do for their families, their communities and the environment. And thank you again for your generous donation, and for helping us empower communities to protect forests and wildlife.
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