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World Wetlands Day: IUCN launches regional project to enhance resilience of wetlands in Lower Mekong countries

Categories: Asia, Climate, Featured Post, Planet
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On the occasion of World Wetlands Day on February 2, IUCN is announcing the launch of a regional project to enhance the resilience of wetlands in Lower Mekong countries. Funded by the International Climate Initiative (IKI) of the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB), and to be implemented until 2020, the Mekong WET: Building Resilience of Wetlands in the Lower Mekong Region” project aims to build climate resilience by harnessing the benefits of wetlands in Cambodia, Lao PDR, Thailand, and Viet Nam.


wetlands in Lower Mekong

Photo: © Pheakdey Sorn/IUCN

Mekong WET will help the four countries to address their commitments to the Ramsar Convention, an international treaty for the conservation and sustainable use of wetlands, and to achieve the Aichi Biodiversity Targets. With wetlands featured as a key ecosystem, the project also supports governments in implementing their National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans (NBSAPs) under the Convention on Biological Diversity and pursuing their commitments on climate change adaptation and mitigation under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. By International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Read more.

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SVCWCS World Responsible Tourism Awards


29th August 2016 – It has been announced that Sam Veasna Center for Wildlife Conservation (SVC) is one of just 13 finalists up for the 2016 World Responsible Tourism Awards at the World Travel Market, London in November 2016, putting Cambodia firmly on the global map for bird and wildlife ecotourism.

SVC is entered for the ‘Best Contribution to Wildlife Conservation’ award, highlighting the key role that ecotourism can have in preserving wildlife and habitats in Cambodia and around the world.

SVC has successfully made it through the most rigorous tourism Awards judging process and is now in contention to be globally awarded for its contribution to wildlife conservation. Innovation, inspiration and repeatable models were key criteria for this year’s finalists and SVC’s unique approach, working closely with WCS Cambodia, of conservation through community based ecotourism has been celebrated for the clear conservation success it has shown.

Cambodia is home to unique habitats and species that have all but vanished across Southeast Asia and has some of the world’s most threatened birds and wildlife, including critically endangered species such as Giant Ibis, 3 vulture species, numerous primates, Asian Elephants and the emblematic Eld’s Deer. Species that can only be seen with SVC. By taking birding and wildlife safaris throughout Cambodia and working closely with rural and indigenous communities in the most vulnerable habitats, SVC and conservation partner the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) have been able to measure the stabilisation and growth of critically endangered species, and a reduction in deforestation. The SVC model for eco-tourism both directly incentivizes conservation in communities by paying a fee to the community when certain wildlife are seen, as well as training and employing community members as guides and ecotourism service providers.

Read the full release here!

To find out more about Sam Veasna Centre visit www.samveasna.org or https://www.facebook.com/SamVeasnaCenter/!

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FINALIST – 2015 Wild Asia Responsible Tourism Awards, Best in Community Engagement & Development

IMG_2626-e1440147722754Creating unforgettable learning experiences in the Cambodian provinces of Kratie and Stung Treng, CRDTours works closely with their partner NGO, CRDT (Cambodian Rural Development Team) to create sustainable changes through community-based tourism initiatives, such as rural development and environmental conservation.

Not only does CRDTours give tourists hands-on cultural experiences, such as whipping up local dishes with their host families, attending traditional religious blessings, and participating in on-going development projects identified by the local communities. But they also make sure the local communities don’t become overly dependent on tourism as a livelihood source by limiting the carrying capacity of visitors to Koh P’dao, an island nestled in the mighty Mekong river and home to a number of their tourist programs.

By expanding their community development tours’ projects to include chicken and pig raising and building toilets and rainwater collection systems, CRDTours is able to reach more beneficiaries and maximize long term benefits while also developing non-tourist centric methods of livelihood such as livestock raising, maintaining home gardens, and environmental education.

Mobilizing local communities key to CRDTours’ success. They are trusted by the local community, provide trainings and improve community awareness about issues such as environmental conservation. During village demonstrations, events, and livelihood trainings focused on deforestation and environmental awareness, 60% of beneficiaries were able to raise at least 3 environmental issues, such as illegal fishing and climate change present in their community and offer solutions.

CRDTours actively involves the local  community members, encouraging them to play a role in development and environmental conservation initiatives, which include:

  • Finding alternative livelihoods to slow/stop the depletion of natural resources
  • Raising awareness about the impact of unsustainable natural resources and gradually change the community’s behavior towards the environment
  • Promoting ecotourism as an incentive for community members to stop harming wildlife and take action to protect it

Ecotourism has been an incentive for communities to protect their rare, Irrawaddy dolphin neighbors and make them proud of their community. Over a quarter of the Community Based Ecotourism (CBET) annual development fund was given to the community fishery for river patrolling. By 2013 community beneficiaries stopped using gillnets (which dolphins are known to get caught in) close to the known dolphin pool and reduced their time spent fishing by 45%. Thanks to the complete removal of gillnets in the area, two baby dolphins were born in the Koh P’dao pool earlier this year.

CRDTours website

Last week was the International Volunteer Day which takes place every year on December 5th.

International Volunteer Day : orphanage tourism

“Children are not tourist attractions” www.thinkchildsafe.org

The growing popularity of international volunteering has led to the trend of orphanage tourism: people take time to volunteer at or visit an orphanage while visiting a foreign country. In Cambodia, a visit to an orphanage would include a short performance or dance routine by the children, accompanied with a request for a small donation to assist with orphanage running costs. Another version is for a tourist to volunteer for a few days at the orphanage. An entire industry has grown out of thousands of tourist visits.

A recent report into Cambodian orphanages has revealed that tourist visits, despite tourists’ best intentions, cause more harm than good. Orphanage tourism, often conducted by shady business operators, does more to harm, rather than help child protection, rights and education standards. In Cambodia, as in much of the developing world, orphanages opened for tourists are a problem, not a solution.

What can you do about it?

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Photograph: AAP

Children at an orphanage outside the capital, Phnom Penh. Photograph: AAP

Volunteers and visitors urged to stay away, saying their growing presence damages children and allows exploitation.

Child protection and NGO workers are pleading with tourists and volunteers to stay away from orphanages in Cambodia, claiming so-called “orphanage tourism” damages the children and enables exploitation. Read more.

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Cambodia 2

Floating Village in Cambodia

The Disproportionate Growth of Tourism, or what I would personally call “The Bucket List Phenomena”, is something affecting many countries and regions around the globe. The problem is that it is not sustainable, already sites like Angor Wat and others around the globe have too many visitors, more than they can cope with to the point where sites are getting damaged and their future sustainability threatened. Mario Hardy. Read more.

 

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 Earlier this month, at World Travel Mart Responsible Tourism Day, many of the world’s leading travel operators got together to discuss sustainability and impact issues fueled by the travel sector. There were an array of discussions including sessions covering child protection, wildlife tourism, local business development and a heated discussion around volunteer travel. By Daniela Papi. Read more.
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Eat, Stay, Buy Locally: Treading Lightly on the Road

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Between the intricate shrines of Angkor Wat, the diverse landscapes of the countryside and the kindness of its people — and despite the horrors of its recent history — Cambodia knocks a lot of people off their feet. It certainly had that effect on me when I first visited a few years ago and then again when I returned this winter. Yet it was impossible not to notice the school-age children begging barefoot at the major tourist sites, underage local women escorting Western men on sex tours, and the proliferation of seemingly unsustainable large-scale resorts being built on the pristine southern coast.

It’s a classic traveler’s question, one that is especially pronounced in developing or poor countries: Is your visit to a destination ultimately helping or hurting the place and its people? Is it possible to travel ethically in such places? By Ondine Cohane. Read more.

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