posted on July 13, 2010 12:07
Resin tappers collect resin throughout the forests of the Northern Plains of Preah Vihear. This activity is a very important source of income for community members as resin tappers can earn US$100-600 per month. Resin tappers often disturb wildlife by camping at waterholes, they start forest fires and engage in hunting both opportunistically and commercially. Addressing the illegal activity associated with resin-tapping is necessary to improve the conservation status of the landscape. As resin-tapping is so lucrative for community members, it is not socially or financially feasible to stop resin collection. Additionally, resin tappers know the forest intimately and can avoid law enforcement patrols and guide hunters easily. Finding a mechanism to improve cooperation of resin tappers is therefore required for effective management and to reduce management costs.
WCS, working with the Forestry Administration, has developed two activities to improve cooperation of resin tappers in the forest. The first was to provide chits which village chiefs were asked to give to tappers when they enter the forest for which chiefs were paid $10 a month. This helped patrol teams stop people from non-traditional user villages claiming ownership of new trees. This system was implemented in four villages in 2009 and on average 47 people per village per month have been taking chits. It has since been expanded to a total of nine villages. Tappers from villages close to the forest tend to visit in smaller groups and for shorter periods compared to those villages further away. This has implications for management as groups staying longer in the forest will tend to subsist more on forest resources such as wildlife. Importantly, the chit system seems to be an effective and cheap method of monitoring access to the forest by tappers.
The other main activity was to mark and locate each resin tree owned by community members in part of the landscape. This helped tappers understand the value of demonstrating their ownership over tapping rights in the areas that they have traditionally used. The results also show that it is possible to identify specific camping sites for tapping areas. Introduction of camping regulations and monitoring by patrol teams will reduce threats to wildlife. An important potential benefit for development of sustainable management is that resin tappers are site specific: each tapper can be made responsible for monitoring and even preventing illegal activities in their tapping area. If tapper are questioned every time illegal activities occur in their individual tapping areas it will encourage tappers to try and reduce such illegal activities.