According to a new study by Australia’s Griffith University, ecotourism can be the critical difference between the survival and the extinction of an endangered species. The study used models to evaluate the net impact of ecotourism on nine threatened species, and found conservation gains for seven of them. Now in its 9th year of operation, Wildlife Alliance continues to see significant success with our Community-Based Ecotourism (CBET) model in Chi Phat. Revenue and number of tourists have steadily increased over the years, and community members have been able to achieve long-term financial stability by operating eco-friendly guesthouses, home stays, and restaurants and working as trekking guides, boat operators, and taxi drivers. The increase in revenue has allowed the community to increase the number of forest patrols conducted by Community Rangers. Their anti-poaching efforts have led to the reduction in the number of traps laid by hunters in the forest, and has resulted in a greater observation and documentation of endangered animals and their tracks.
An added benefit of the program has been the spread of the concept of recycling and waste management. To improve the tourist experience, it became necessary for the community to address their inadequate waste management system. Local authorities and school principals showed a strong support for recycling in the community and a self-sustained youth group called The Chi Phat Green Ambassadors grew out of this interest. The Chi Phat Green Ambassadors are a local volunteer youth group made up of 8th and 9th grade students that meet with Wildlife Alliance staff to discuss and address various environmental concerns in the community. The group plays a key role in litter education and prevention, as well as clean-up initiatives in villages, along trails and at forest campsites. The group has made a significant impact in cleaning up Chi Phat, and we know they will take this experience with them as they go into high school. In the meantime, the next class is already geared up and excited to take over! Show your support by liking their Facebook page!
Make a difference for wildlife and communities by helping the Community-Based Ecotourism program expand to other areas in Cambodia. Your gift will increase sustainable ecotourism in the Cardamom Rainforest and ultimately, protect the forest and its wildlife.