Preserving natural resources in the Cardamom mountains
Duration of the partnership
Cambodia has one of the highest rates of deforestation in south-east Asia: the Cardamom mountains, one of country’s richest biodiversity reservoirs, are particularly threatened by human activities. Restoring forest ecosystems and promoting the sustainable management of natural resources is, therefore, of crucial environmental and socio-economic importance, especially in the buffer zones in which GERES has focused its action.
The rural communities have very limited human and financial resources to devote to restoration at a time when a process of decentralisation and devolution aims to increase citizen participation in the decision-making process.
This is why the GERES project, which began in January 2017, aims to encourage actions that support local communities and local operators so that they can get involved in responsible farming in productive forest areas. The overall goal of this is to restore buffer zones around the Cardamom mountains while making sustainable, and diversifying, local populations’ means of subsistence.
The Maisons du Monde Foundations supports GERES with the operational implementation of the project by carrying out concrete forest restoration activities and investing in the area’s natural capital. This entails training local authorities in how to devise plans for development and community investment, providing forestry awareness-raising and training activities for 100 operators and running restoration activities across 200ha of depleted land.
The project also plans to develop productive buffer zones by setting up community nurseries and growing 3 species of high-yield trees in commercial plantations, providing communities with short-term income and long-term prospects.
Lastly, GERES wants to get the textile industry to play a more positive role through innovative public-private partnerships, since this industry bears significant responsibility for deforestation in the country owing to the rate at which it devours wood. The purpose of these partnerships is to build investment models that make sustainable use of the country’s natural capital and preserve Cambodia’s forest resources.
Local and provincial authorities are directly involved in drawing up community development and investment plans. They are more than 100 people, representing three communes.
The project supports more than 100 village-dwellers across the forest communities that benefit from training in sustainable forestry management.
The project is based on a systemic approach for protecting forest resources while safeguarding the means of subsistence for rural communities. The specificity of this approach resides in the effort to reconcile the conservation of natural resources with economic productivity rather than opposing the two.
This approach captures the DNA of GERES, who strive to combine local environmental and economic development in everything it does.
GERES (Group for the Environment, Renewable Energy and Solidarity Group) is a development NGO that specialises in sustainable energy and environmental protection.
For more than 40 years it has been implementing projects to improve local peoples’ living conditions and preserve natural resources.
With a team of 150 professionals, GERES develops technologies and services aimed at building sustainable economic activities that address human, social and cultural needs in host areas.