BeTreed Adventures is working hard to conserve the wildlife that is found in the area. The area has been known locally as a “great place to hunt” and residents from around the province have been known to come in hunting parties for a fun day out. These practices are not sustainable and the wildlife suffers. However, relatively for Cambodia, there is still enough wildlife around to make it worthwhile to protect the area. Endangered Banteng, Pileated Gibbon, Silver Langur and Green Peafowl are all resident in the area. Certain trees are also on the endangered species list, especially the rosewoods native to this forest – for obvious reasons.
So, there is a big job to do. Rangers are needed to patrol the area for logging, poaching and snares. The Community Forest Committee is active here. They have taken initiative in confiscating chainsaws, tractors hauling wood and collecting snares. This challenging job will be ongoing to ensure any measure of protection, and BeTreed Adventures supports this through community ranger remuneration.
Environmental education is another big idea that needs to be done in the local communities and also further afield (i.e. where those hunting parties are coming from!). There is so much we can do to educate the community and we are hoping to start a program for the community with the primary goal of fostering ownership and placing a value on their forest. An environmental program involving the children will be an important and fun program to implement. For those, further afield who come to the forest to hunt and log, we need to ensure that they are aware that this forest is protected and that they can be prosecuted for hunting and logging.
The whole zoning process for assigning Phnom Tnout as Community Forest has been arduous and is almost but not yet complete. The process involves lots of administration and government red-tape that no one necessarily understands. And certainly once finalised, is only the beginning of the forest management process to ensure that the forest will be reserved the future. Importantly, setting a forest management plan, created by the community, will make areas of the forest available for sustainable use, a core protected zone, buffer zones and so forth. BeTreed Adventures is supporting this ongoing process.
Through this multi-pronged approach, some of which is currently being carried out while other activities are still in our heads, we will see improvement in the conservation of this important area.