Mr Andrew Mace, the British Ambassador to Cambodia, together with a delegation from the United Kingdom's Department for International Development (DfID) made a visit to the SPF in late January to learn more about the work with local community groups, and the development of indigenous tenure agreements.
Following a lunch and project briefing at the Keo Seima Headquarters the group visited the village of O Rona. Here they met with the indigenous tenure commission. Adrian Davis, head of DfID for North and East Asia asked about the history of the villages, and the community's hopes and fears. The community members reported that developments such as the road grading, and the work to secure land tenure have improved their livelihoods. They also were worried however about the development of a rubber plantation threatens some of their village land, and hoped that securing communal tenure will help protect their land.
After finishing in O’Rona the group drove through the SPF to Andoung Kraloeng village. On route they were lucky enough to observe a family of Black-shanked Doucs feeding in a roadside tree. At Andoung Kraloeng they met with the village elders and indigenous commission. Here they learned about the village’s work to demarcate their communal land, a process which is nearly finalised. The villagers reported they felt that as a result of the land-use planning and demarcation their land was more secure against land-grabbing and other threats. As dusk settled over the village the delegation visited a vegetable patch that has been created with assistance from the project partner CRDT. Here Mrs Yolande Wright, Richard Erlebach, Mrs Mao Moni Ratana and the rest of the group learned about the improvements in agricultural production that have been made and the additional income that is now being made by participating families.
This visit is one of several taking place in early 2010. These tours give the project an opportunity to demonstrate some of the challenges to NRM and conservation in Cambodia but also allow the chance to highlight some of the more important achievements made by WCS, the FA and other project partners.