New project in Eastern Plains Landscape, Mondulkiri Province, aims to secure natural heritage & significant biodiversity
“This project will bring governments institutions, civil society and the private sector to work towards building a business-biodiversity partnership that will lead to more sustainable and equitable environmental and socio-economic development in Mondulkiri Province,” said Mr. Chhith Sam Ath, WWF-Cambodia’s Country Director.
With appropriate governance support and sophisticated planning, sustainable ecotourism can be a source of financial revenue which will not only support PA management but also contribute to local economic development.
“Integrated spatial planning including ecosystem services valuation is the fundamental element of the project,” said Koen Everaert, the project’s task manager at the EU Delegation to Cambodia. “This planning has to be facilitated at the provincial level so that it will provide a blueprint for sustainable land use and spatial development. I hope that the provincial authorities will offer its fullest support to make this project a success.”
In line with the National Forestry Programme, this project also aims to foster forest partnerships, where communities living around the protected areas have land tenure rights and responsibility over forest resources through community forests and community protected areas that are combined with market-driven benefits which in a long run will establish local forest stewardship.
The project will help all its stakeholders to better understand the nature and value of the existing ecosystem services in Mondulkiri Province. This knowledge will allow key decision-makers to plan and visualize in order to identify planning solutions that support sustainable socio-economic development of the province as well as to sustain and maximize the benefits of natural capital.
Pou Chrey’s District Chief, Keounh Ratha, said that communities’ livelihoods need to be improved so that local people will help protect the forests, and that people need to know and see the benefits that the forests offer to them. He hopes that this project will be able to help with that.
“The community really wants to see sustainable management of the forests and their livelihoods improved through farming and resin processing,” said Ratha. “If their livelihoods are improved, they will use the forests sustainably which will help with conservation efforts. Local development is needed to provide the community with opportunities for income.”
Sros Veun, Ronus Knhaeng’s Community Leader, hopes that provision of ecosystem system services will be secured to support his community through the project.
“Our community depends heavily on natural resources, biodiversity, and non-timber products to make a living,” Veun said. “Knowledge on sustainable use is crucial so that the communities can be involved in protecting the forests. I hope that this new project with the EU will help provide technical assistance and knowledge to the villagers.”
“As a representative of local authorities and the governor of Mondulkiri Province, I’d like the EU and WWF to consider and continue to strengthen conservation development with relevant government authorities and to successfully implement this project and help improve the livelihoods of local communities,” Choeng Sochantha, administration director of the provincial office, said in his opening speech on behalf of the provincial governor.
The project is part of WWF-Cambodia Programme that is implementing in the Eastern Plains Landscape of Mondulkiri Province.
“Through this project, WWF is confident that biodiversity and natural capital will be seen as an asset and not as an obstacle to socio-economic development,” Mr. Sam Ath said.