Empower Cambodian Communities to Protect Forests

by Wildlife Alliance
Vetted
Guesthouses that help local communities
Guesthouses that help local communities

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.

Support local and ecofriendly tour operators
Support local and ecofriendly tour operators
Southern Cardamom Mountains, Cambodia
Southern Cardamom Mountains, Cambodia
Thank you!
Thank you!

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.

Striving to achieve equality
Striving to achieve equality
Women leaders of the Agriculture Association
Women leaders of the Agriculture Association
Meeting at the Women
Meeting at the Women's Committee
Empowering women, empowers communities.
Empowering women, empowers communities.
CBET Members with National Tourism Award and Flag
CBET Members with National Tourism Award and Flag

Thank you for supporting our project to Empower Cambodian Communities to Protect Forests! We are excited to announce that on November 26th, it was announced that our Community Based Ecotourism in Chi Phat was one of 11 winners chosen by the Dubai Municipality for the Dubai International Award for Best Practices to Improve the Living Environment (DIABP). This award honors outstanding achievements made towards improving living conditions of people and communities around the world, while contributing to the protection of the natural environment. Wildlife Alliance representatives are currently in Dubai accpeting the award, and presenting the project's work along with the other winners. The project will receive a cash prize, a trophy and a certificate of merit during a special ceremony that will be held later this week.

This is the second major award that CBET has recently won. On December 13th, 2014, our CBET project in Chi Phat also won the national tourism Clean City, Clean Resort, Good Service and Good Hospitality Award for 2014-2015 from the Cambodian Ministry of Tourism. Among all the communities and resorts in Cambodia, Chi Phat was the only one to receive the Flags Award grade "B" (no one has yet received Grade "A").

Since 2007, Wildlife Alliance has helped the community of Chi Phat develop nature-based ecotourism in the Cardamom Mountain Range, one of Asia’s last untouched rainforests. Wildlife Alliance supported the development of 300 kilometers of forest trails and 5 night camps, purchase of mountain bikes and kayaks, retrofitting of 12 homestays and 11 guesthouses, and implementation of a waste management system. We provided training in computer literacy, small business management, and hospitality. Chi Phat officially opened for tourism in 2008 and earns revenues based on a diversified service delivery system. Wildlife Alliance continues to provide international marketing and on-the-job training.

We hope you'll continue to support ecotourism and sustainable development in rural Cambodia!

Ecotourism at Chi Phat
Ecotourism at Chi Phat
Nak Sok and his wife on their farm
Nak Sok and his wife on their farm

It is estimated that 4,000 – 6,000 square miles of rainforest are lost each year to slash-and-burn agriculture. While this technique of cultivation has existed since humans first began farming, the combination of rapidly declining forests and increasing human population has made it unsustainable. After just one harvest, erosion and nutrient loss causes the soil to quickly degrade, making it impossible to grow on that land again, and forcing farmers to burn down another section of forest. This vicious cycle leads to sustained poverty, forest fires, desertification, biodiversity loss and a net increase in global carbon dioxide emission. To address this critical issue in the Southern Cardamoms, Wildlife Alliance created the Community Agriculture Development Project (CADP) to help families earn a livable income while still protecting wildlife and forests.

The program has helped 187 families lift themselves out of poverty by training them in modern agriculture techniques and marketing, and providing farmers with subsidized tools, irrigation, and seedlings. One such farmer that has benefited is Nak Sok. Before joining the program, Nak Sok and his family survived by poaching and slash-and-burn farming. They were eventually able to save enough to buy a small farm near the Andoung Teuk River. However, they soon found out that the land they acquired actually belonged to someone else, and the “seller” had provided them with false papers and stolen their money. Nak Sok did not want to go back to the unpredictability of the forest and decided to join the Community Agriculture Development Project in Sovanna Baitong instead. The program helped him obtain1.5 hectares of land, where they now grow watermelon, sugarcane, rice, and corn year round. Nak Sok and his wife even raise pigs, chickens, cows and ducks to supplement their income. They are dedicated farmers and parents to four daughters and three sons. Their steady income 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.

To continue to make stories like this possible, make a gift today to Empower Cambodian Communities to Protect Forests

Their beautiful new home for their large family
Their beautiful new home for their large family
Women of Sovanna Baitong
Women of Sovanna Baitong

Why Invest in Women? According to USAID, programs that provide women opportunities to better their well-being, education and health, have effects beyond a single individual. The impact of an investment made in a woman is multiplied as she extends benefits to the world around her, and creates a better life for her family and community. Globally, women make up 43% of the agricultural labor force. However, they are less likely to own land, and own smaller amounts of land when they do. But when women have the same amount of land as men, there is an increase of over 10% in crop yield. By helping a woman achieve financial independence, you’re making it possible for her voice to be heard. She can now make better decisions for her family, and give her daughters the opportunities she never had to finish school and get married when they are ready. Her knowledge and confidence will enable her to enact social change and better the future for her entire community and country.

Women are powerful agents of change in communities. They also 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. Yet, when it comes to decision making and policy change, women are consistently underrepresented. Strategies to promote sustainable resource management continue to marginalize the role women play on the environment. At Wildlife Alliance, we understand that when women are empowered, the pool of people committed to resource conservation is enlarged, children are raised with a conservation ethic, and a sustainable green economy can be fully realized.

In 2013, the women of Sovanna Baitong banded together to take charge of their own lives and make their own contribution to the protection of their environment. They created a Women’s Committee to empower women and advocate for gender equality. The Committee aims to improve the lives of women by providing leadership training and promoting entrepreneurial initiatives that will lead to financial independence. Of the 689 women in Sovanna Baitong, 35 women manage small businesses. This year, 30 other women have applied for micro-loans from the community fund to initiate new green businesses. During their Committee meetings, the women learn valuable lessons in budgeting, business management, and women’s health and rights. In turn, they can better manage their loans and work to expand their businesses, and hire and employ more women. They are working together to create a support system and social framework necessary to succeed, and right now we can help them make their dreams a reality. Help fund our microproject to suppport the Women's Committee in Sovanna Baitong! Your gift will help the women start green businesses, increase their earning power and give them a voice in the community.

Women working together and sharing knowledge
Women working together and sharing knowledge
Meeting at the Women
Meeting at the Women's Committee

Links:

 

About Project Reports

Project Reports on GlobalGiving are posted directly to globalgiving.org by Project Leaders as they are completed, generally every 3-4 months. To protect the integrity of these documents, GlobalGiving does not alter them; therefore you may find some language or formatting issues.

If you donate to this project or have donated to this project, you will get an e-mail when this project posts a report. You can also subscribe for reports via e-mail without donating.

Get Reports via Email

We'll only email you new reports and updates about this project.

Organization Information

Wildlife Alliance

Location: New York, NY - USA
Website: http:/​/​www.wildlifealliance.org
Project Leader:
Sheena Thiruselvan
Development Officer
New York, NY United States
$5,515 raised of $15,000 goal
 
37 donations
$9,485 to go
Donate Now Add Project to Favorites

Help raise money for this important cause by creating a personalized fundraising page for this project.

Start a Fundraiser

Learn more about GlobalGiving

Teenage Science Students
Vetting +
Due Diligence

Snorkeler
Our
Impact

Woman Holding a Gift Card
Give
Gift Cards

Young Girl with a Bicycle
GlobalGiving
Guarantee

Sign up for the GlobalGiving Newsletter

WARNING: Javascript is currently disabled or is not available in your browser. GlobalGiving makes extensive use of Javascript and will not function properly with Javascript disabled. Please enable Javascript and refresh this page.