BeTreed Adventures is working closely with the community of Ta Bos Village to implement this eco-tourism initiative. Ta Bos Village is the “guardian” of the 6,400 hectare community forest centred around Phnom Tnout (“Sugar Palm Mountain”). The village is seven kilometres from Phnom Tnout and the community has traditionally used the forest for hunting, fishing, resin tapping, other non-timer forest products such as honey and medicinal plants, and then of course, timber – both for local use and for export.
Since some of these activities are just not conducive to conservation, it will be a long road. The first step that we are still completing is the Community Forest management planning process. This is very important. Parts of the Community Forest will be zoned as core, sustainable use, etc. It is important that the community agree and adhere to these zones. These zones need to be enforced.
The second step is the programming of a proportion of the funds received from tourists back into community development initiatives. These funds will be governed by the Commune Integrated Planning process and of course is subject to the number of tourists visiting Phnom Tnout. Infrastructure improvement, water and sanitation programs, health programs, and education can be supported through this initiative.
BeTreed Adventures is looking to hire locally as much as possible. Rangers, guides, housekeeping, groundskeepers, gardeners and kitchen staff, we hope can all come from the village and close by. Secondary employment can also be stimulated – vegetable producers, handicrafts, and some other industries will be supported.
Through these initiatives, the people will be able to see that “you can have your cake and eat it to” but not if you eat it first! So, first – secure the forest! Then all can profit from its many bounties.