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Biodiversity Conservation and Sustainable forest Management.

Community Participation in Biodiversity Conservation

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      At present, the total area of 4-8 million square kilometers of global forests are managed by local communities indicating the high effectiveness of forest conservation and sustainable use of the community-based management. According to the 3rd Global Biodiversity Outlook, it is concluded that community or indigenous people-managed forests are better protected than exclusive state-managed forests.

      Most successful operations of sustainable biodiversity conservation and use at the area, species, or ecosystem levels are partaken and supported by the communities. The exchange of experiences in implementation and sharing of success stories will encourage and promote any progressive endeavors such as exemplified by biodiversity protection in Cambodia below.

 

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     The Northern Plains of Cambodia are the natural grasslands mixed with the open deciduous forests and fertile wetlands where rare and near-extinction species are living in, especially the big wetland birds such as the white-shouldered ibis. A group of conservationists from the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) implements a project in a small community close to Tmatboey which is located next to the Kulen Promtep Wildlife Sanctuary. This is the area mostly for the birds’ nesting grounds. They started with the selection of species to be promoted for ecotourism considering the market opportunities and potentials of the areas. The giant ibis and the white-shouldered ibis are selected as both are the Earth’s rarest birds and this area is the only location being reported of their nesting. In terms of conservation, these are greatly significant.

     The next stage is the engagement with the community in tourism management. The village committee is established composing of 9 elected representatives. The core responsibility is to manage “Village Development Fund” under the community’s name. The main income of this fund is from the tourists, most of them are bird-watchers, who agree to donate 30 US dollars after they see the expected birds. Other community members also receive income benefits from home-stay, food and beverages, or local guide services (5 US dollars per day).

     In regards to bird protection, the Village Committee has mobilized all members to sign and acknowledge its rules on no-hunting and conservation of the birds’ nesting grounds. If any community member violates such rules, all tourism promotion plans are immediately cancelled or the violators are excluded from receiving benefits.

     Using birds as a condition to link tourism management with conservation objective of bird protection, all benefits gained from tourism depend on the quality of area management. Without the birds or in case of natural habitat degradation, this form of tourism will never be successful and the community thus receives no following advantages.

 

 

    Currently, the Village Committee is almost entirely responsible for tourism management by its own. The villagers are proud of their locality due to regular visits of foreign visitors. Over the past 5 years, Tmatboey Ibis Tourism Site has become popular and well-known among the bird-watchers around the world. The number of tourists has increased each year and their trips tend to be longer which raise community revolving income.

     From an outset of bird-watching promotion in this area, the problem of white-shouldered ibis hunting has almost disappeared as all community members are aware that these 2 birds, together with other wild animals are attractive to the tourists. The population of white-shouldered ibis begins to rise while the number of giant ibis is not reducing. This has been the most important success indicator of the initiative so far.

     The economy, society, and environment are mutually dependent. They can grow together on the basis of locally appropriate application. The economic incentives can be the instruments to raise awareness of the local people in partaking resource conservation. Nonetheless, the most crucial element in sustainable biodiversity or any protected area management is the cooperation of local communities in the area.

 

 

 


Source :

  • http://www.wcs.org/conservation-challenges/local-livelihoods/ecotourism/the-giant-ibises-of-tmatboey.aspx
  • www.wcslivinglandscapes.com
  • http://www.samveasna.org/bird-site/tmatboey.html
  • http://equatorinitiative.org/index.php?option=com_winners&view=winner_detail&id=150&Itemid=683
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