An Overview Of Our Solution
- Population Impacted
- Continent: Asia
New York, 10018
1.7 million acres
Local resources the community depends on, and for what purpose
Local threats to resources
Level of sensitivity
Level of adaptive capacity
Wildlife Alliance?s 19 years of experience in protected area management shows that a threat-based methodology is the only effective way to protect biodiversity with measurable results. That is why development of alternative livelihoods for local communities by itself is not enough. Rampant wildlife poaching, illegal logging, and encroachment on forestland ? which are often conducted by well-organized, well-funded groups from outside the area ? can only be stopped by law enforcement on the ground. Since 2003, on-the-ground SCFPP patrols have continuously ensured respect for demarcation boundaries and systematically enforced the law by taking to court all cases of forest clearing and land encroachment. Whenever military, high-level officials, or powerful business people have tried to grab forestland, fast reports have been sent to a special inter-ministerial land use committee for immediate intervention. Today, SCFPP patrol units are safeguarding the entire Southern Cardamoms, 127 km from south to north and 121 km from east to west. Wildlife Alliance supports six Forestry Administration ranger stations, manned by 95 rangers (Forestry Administration officers, Military Police, and civilian staff). Patrol units conduct daily crack downs on forest crimes. The combination of patrols, arrests and prosecutions, and ongoing meetings with government to build capacity and political will acts as a strong deterrent against wildlife poaching, illegal logging, and forestland encroachment. SCFPP is implemented within the framework of Wildlife Alliance?s five forest management components: (1) development of alternative livelihoods for poor landless farmers who previously subsisted on environmentally destructive practices; (2) zoning and demarcation (both of protected forestland and of forestland that may support sustainable livelihoods); (3) regular ranger patrols; (4) wildlife rescue, care, and re-wilding; and (5) broad-based environmental education. SCFPP lays the foundation for this integrated approach to conservation by strengthening law enforcement, stopping wildlife poaching, retrieving forestland from land grabbers and returning it to the state, cracking down on illegal logging, promoting sustainable resource management, and ensuring good governance.
Economic Indicators used to measure benefit
--Number of acres protected --Relatively normalized weather patterns --Increasing biodiversity
Community/Social Indicators used to measure benefit
--Training provided for rangers and for alternative livelihoods --Costs of ranger operations: transportation, equipment, salaries.
--Community members participating in alternative livelihood programs have seen exponential income growth and consequently stopped environmentally destructive activities
Ecological Indicators used to measure benefit
--Increased income for landless rural farmers --Decreased forest-destructive activities --Effective patrol teams
What were/are the challenges your community faced in implementing this solution?
Implementation of a comprehensive project with multiple stakeholders ? government, industry, and the rural communities directly involved ? offers enormous rewards, but also many challenges, as detailed above. Thus far, WA has satisfied stakeholder demands, and we make every effort to amplify this success. Development of grass-roots support among low-income communities is a long-term process, but it is absolutely essential to the Project?s viability and, on a larger scale, the environmental health of the entire region. It is also important we continue to cultivate an atmosphere of conservation support amongst government stakeholders, as economic land concessions continued to be presented.
Describe the community-based process used to develop the solution including tools and processes used
The Southern Cardamom Forest Protection Program (SCFPP) provides on-the-ground protection to an environmentally critical area that is also one of Asia?s last remaining elephant corridors. Located in the Indo-Burmese Peninsula, an internationally recognized biodiversity hotspot, the Cardamom Mountain Range is Cambodia?s most important watershed and carbon sink. SCFPP provides direct protection to 720,000 hectares of tropical forest ? an area equivalent to almost 5% of Cambodia?s land mass ? and addresses the local drivers of deforestation and desertification through (1) zoning and demarcation of protected forestland, (2) advocacy at all levels of government to cancel agro-industrial and mining land concessions, and (3) developing alternative livelihoods in agriculture, ecotourism, and reforestation for poor landless farmers previously practicing destructive forest slash-and-burn. The area is managed and monitored through direct law enforcement on the ground conducted by professional forest rangers drawn from the Cambodian Royal Gendarmerie and Forestry Administration, supervised by Wildlife Alliance experts. Wildlife Alliance and the Forestry Administration are working in partnership to implement a comprehensive approach to conservation. This effort entails strengthening law enforcement, stopping wildlife poaching, retrieving forestland from land grabbers and returning it to the state, cracking down on illegal logging, promoting sustainable resource management, and ensuring good governance. The Southern Cardamoms have been under intense pressure since 2002, when a trans-boundary freeway was constructed through the tropical forest, opening vast tracts of wilderness to real estate speculators and commercial hunters. In just a few months, hundreds of hectares of public forestland were sold in illegal transactions and 37 Asian elephants were killed. To bring the situation back under control, Cambodia?s Forestry Administration asked for Wildlife Alliance?s assistance. Patrol units were recruited, trained, and equipped; three small ranger stations were established; and systematic patrolling was implemented. A province-wide campaign was conducted, informing all villagers that the new Forestry Law 2002 would deliver strict prosecutions for any further elephant killings. As a result of the patrolling and the campaign, elephant deaths were reduced by 98%, tiger deaths were reduced by 50%, and slash-and-burn forest fires were reduced by 80%. During SCFPP?s first decade, from 2003 to 2012, only four elephants were reported killed. At the same time, to address the issue of local government selling state-owned forests under the table, Wildlife Alliance and the Forestry Administration conducted a first-of-its-kind zoning-and-demarcation operation that involved provincial, district, and commune authorities as well as three ministries from the national government. As a result, 401 cases of forestland encroachment and over 500 land title claims were cancelled in just the first nine months of operations. Zoning of Freeway No. 48 was officially finalized and signed in November 2003. Precise UTM boundaries for each commune and each strictly protected forest segment are still in effect today.
Climate hazard of concern
How does your solution reduce the exposure of and buffer/protect the ecosystem affected?
Constant vigilance is the cost of keeping the Southern Cardamom forest safe and maintaining its high level of biodiversity. Without Wildlife Alliance?s continued support to the Forestry Administration, the Southern Cardamom tropical rainforest is at risk of being cleared for conversion to agriculture and real estate sales. In 2012, rangers conducted 8,102 patrols, covered 108,464 km of forest, stopped 23 criminal forest fires set by land grabbers, and took 20 violators to court. SCFPP rangers patrol every day of the year. Rangers go on planned four- to five-day patrols by foot, boat, motorbikes, or a combination of transportation modes; aerial patrols are also used. Shorter patrols are conducted when stations receive specific information regarding a transport of wildlife or illegal timber; in these cases, rangers conduct ambushes along rivers and roads. Patrol routes are designed (1) to cover all quadrant sections systematically, focusing on known threat sections; (2) to respond to information received on emergent threats; and (3) to address issues of illegal logging or land encroachment identified during weekly land surveys. When special operations are organized, multiple ranger stations combine their efforts, as, for example, to crack down on networks of traffickers or illegal logging operations. Teams rotate to ensure coverage during public holidays because this is the peak time for wildlife and timber transports since traders expect ranger stations to be understaffed. Wildlife Alliance operates the ranger stations in cooperation with Cambodia?s Forestry Administration and provides capacity building for forest rangers through on-the-job coaching. Our six ranger stations conform to the following strategic criteria: 1. Stations are located at strategic points along transportation axes and trading routes to monitor people going into the forest and to intercept transports of timber and wildlife coming out of the forest. 2. Stations are placed at calculated land distances from each other with precise patrol quadrants so that rangers cover the entire surface area. Stations intervene in other patrol quadrants and help other stations when needed for large-scale operations. 3. Each station has two patrol units (Alpha and Bravo teams) with six rangers in each unit. While one team patrols along roads and rivers, the other team patrols by foot inside the forest, allowing the rangers to cover at the same time the main transportation axis where traffickers are likely to be stopped and the small forest paths where poachers lay their traps. Night traffic is monitored by rotating team members. 4. Forest patrol plans are based on (a) need for onsite interventions when villagers alert station to problems; (b) systematic daily patrolling plans to cover all quadrant sections; (c) need for immediate interventions to intercept in-progress wildlife and timber transports, based on information given by informants and local people, or to stop forest burning/clearing and illegal sawmills, as identified by regular aerial surveys; and (d) assistance requested from other stations in support of large-scale operations.
How has your solution increased the capacity of the ecosystem to adapt to potential climate changes?
The SCFPP has maintained the integrity of the Southern Cardamom Rainforest, increasing forestland and forest cover, by consistently removing the threats to its survival. Regular patrols that remove snares, charcoal kilns, and destroy logging routes work hand in hand with the apprehension and prosecution of forest criminals, removing them from and destroying the illegal networks of which they are a part. Vigilant monitoring, mapping and reporting ensures that the work we have put in to protect the forest is not undone. Our most important effort toward the long-term sustainability of the SCFPP is our Southern Cardamom REDD+ Project. Wildlife Alliance and the Forestry Administration have been working with Wildlife Works Carbon (WWC), the San Francisco-based carbon developer, to finalize the Southern Cardamom REDD+ Project that is anticipated to fund the ranger patrol operations over the next 30 to 60 years. Financial projections anticipate that revenues from carbon sales will also cover costs for additional zoning and demarcation and development of community livelihood for three additional communes in the leakage zone (Chhay Araing, Kamlot, and Veal Thapou). As soon as the contract is signed between the Royal Government of Cambodia and WWC, which is expected to take place in about one year, the company will invest in covering the patrol operation costs until Verified Carbon Standard validation and verification are completed. WWC is a carbon developer, investor, and seller that developed the very first REDD+ project in the world to be VCS validated and verified and has been selling carbon credits on the voluntary market for most of the last two years. The company has several corporate clients that are now seeking to purchase a lot more carbon credits. It is anticipated that REDD+ carbon credits will ensure the financial sustainability of the Southern Cardamom Forest Protection Program over the long term.
How does your solution reduce the exposure of and buffer/protect the communities affected?
To ensure SCFPP?s long-term sustainability, it is vital that Wildlife Alliance work directly with the communities residing in the project area to provide livelihood alternatives to forest-destructive practices like illegal logging, wildlife poaching, and slash-and-burn farming. Wildlife Alliance has developed innovative community programs in agriculture, ecotourism, and reforestation that provide poor, landless farmers with climate-smart livelihoods that support the protection of the forest through avoided deforestation and active restoration of continuous forest cover. Furthermore, community members also gain new skill sets as farmers (as Wildlife Alliance?s technical staff works with them side-by-side in the field on a daily basis), small business owners, marketers, and fund managers; they become personally invested in long-term protection of the forest and success of civil society in their region.
How does your solution reduce the sensitivity of the communities affected?
When Wildlife Alliance arrived in the Southern Cardamoms in 2001, the villagers and landless farmers living in the area were subsisting on unsustainable, forest-destructive activities like illegal logging, wildlife poaching, and slash-and-burn farming. We developed a Community Agriculture Development Project and a Community-Based Ecotourism Project to address the income needs of community members through sustainable alternatives. Our programs in community agriculture and ecotourism are assisting villagers in efforts to work in conjunction with nature, while our Tropical Reforestation Project, in particular, is serving this goal through the collection, cultivation, and replanting of indigenous tree species over denuded forest gaps in the Southern Cardamoms. Headquartered just outside Chi Phat village, the project trains and employs about 100 local villagers, the majority of whom are women, whose families previously subsisted on forest slash-and-burn cultivation and wildlife hunting. These workers now provide for their families through sustainable livelihoods supported by Wildlife Alliance. As they actively restore the forest that is Cambodia?s natural heritage, they are helping change the mindset of the community toward the environment: With significant numbers of employees retained year after year, the Project is looked upon as a reliable income source and is widely and enthusiastically supported by members of the community. Since the launch of the project, Wildlife Alliance has planted approximately 770,000 trees over 770 hectares of denuded forestland. Our Tropical Reforestation Project aims to preserve large areas of continuous forest cover in Koh Kong province that is critical to the maintenance of water supply, of large-mammal ranges and migration routes, and of the biological integrity of the forest. In so doing, we have succeeded in operating the largest and most successful reforestation project in Cambodia.
How has your solution increased the capacity of local communities to adapt to potential climate changes?
Through increased involvement of the communities who are setting the standard for habitat management via alternative work in agriculture, ecotourism and reforestation, as well as participatory forest patrolling, Wildlife Alliance is actively repairing and regenerating degraded forest. These initiatives further support the goal of reforming how people live off the land ? transforming formerly destructive actors into sustainable problem solvers. Our alternative livelihoods programs ? Community Agriculture Development Program, Community-Based Ecotourism Project and Tropical Reforestation Project ? are allowing community members to take responsible ownership over their natural heritage, and furthermore, to take pride in its preservation. Forest restoration has become a point of honor and a demonstration of societal change. In order to ensure long-term sustainability of our direct protection initiative, it is vital to work with the communities living within the rainforest to provide alternatives to forest-destructive activities like illegal logging, wildlife poaching, and slash-and-burn farming. Community programs in agriculture, ecotourism, and reforestation provide poor, landless farmers with climate-smart livelihoods that support the protection of the forest through avoided deforestation and active restoration of continuous forest cover. Communities working alongside Wildlife Alliance have seen exponential growth in yearly income outputs and have benefited from the technical assistance and training from Wildlife Alliance staff to develop new career paths, such as farmers, small business owners, marketers, or fund managers. Our community livelihoods programs aim to boost civic participation with the creation of Community Associations. These community-based organizations have been an important pillar in fortifying civil society where people are encouraged to exercise their democratic rights, participate in the decision-making process, and freely pursue their economic, social, and cultural interests. These associations have additionally supported the strengthening of rule of law by connecting their governance with communal, provincial, and national authorities ? assuring a bottom-up application of policies relating to forest management and wildlife protection. Perhaps most importantly for the future of Cambodia and its role in the developing world, these community associations have created significant roles for women. The Agriculture Association in Sovanna Baitong and Community-Based Ecotourism Committee in Chi Phat boast a majority of women in decision-making positions, with authority over pivotal community initiatives like micro-credit loans and community funds, education and healthcare, and small business enterprises.
Can this solution be replicated elsewhere?
Wildlife Alliance?s solution is unique in its comprehensiveness. It is this very comprehensiveness that has made our Project the largest and most successful of its kind in Cambodia. We believe that our model is replicable across the countless regions of the Tropical Belt that face similar threats to water, land, and wildlife ? threats that if left unaddressed can lead to desertification, famine, and dangerous weather events.