Effective conservation and management of Community Forestry (CF) is viewed as a way of improving the economy and welfare of the rural Paklae community who rely on Non-Timber and Forestry Products (NTFPs) for subsistence and a cash income.
On Saturday 24th August the Executive Director of the Forests and Livelihood Organization (FLO), Miss Vandy Kim, led a group of five FLO Board members to inspect and meet the Community Forestry (CF), Community Land Titling (CLT) and Agriculture members in Paklae, a village in the Sambo district in Kratie Province.
During the meeting both parties discussed the challenges facing the CF, CLT and Agriculture projects as well as other ways to improve the local resident’s livelihoods.
The Chairman of the Board, Mr. Pich Bunthoeun expressed “FLO’s willingness to work hand-in-hand with the community to achieve FLO’s vision of improving their livelihood. He suggested future development in ecotourism as a way of attracting tourists to generate additional income”.
On the question of whether the illegal logging is decreasing or increasing, the village Chief answered “There is a dramatic decrease in the illegal logging activities since we started this forest patrolling.”
Community Forestry patrolling team leader, Mr Sanpon, stated that ,the illegal loggers sometimes carry guns making it very dangerous and possibly life threatening to confront them. However ,with a group of up to nine team members at a time, all carrying mobile phone cameras hidden in their pockets, they are able to identify overcome them. He said,
“We strive to protect the forest because our lives depend on agricultural and forestry resources to meet our socio-economic needs. We are sincerely grateful to FLO for its enormous support in providing raincoats, flashlights, fuel, funds and training to our Patrol Team.”
Miss Amy expressed “appreciation for their effort and asked how they could protect the forest without weapons”.
Mr Saber Masoomi (Deputy Board Chairman) also emphasized that “Community Forestry management is one of the ‘best practice’ to protect and maintain remaining forest alongside harvesting NTFPs to improve peoples’ living standards. He praised them and asked for their full commitment to maintain the projects sustainability”.
The Solar Water Pump is used to supply water for household needs and crop irrigation for the villages.
The question of how best the ill-equipped patrollers could be protected and the Solar Panel Project could be maintained is a major concern yet to be resolved.
By George F. Afful