Initial project activities focused on law enforcement, with patrol teams led by the Forestry Administration (FA) targeting activities such as illegal hunting and land clearance. The effectiveness of these interventions is now monitored through the use of specialised computer software, while their long-term impact on wildlife populations is monitored through a ecological monitoring program. This law enforcement effort is supplemented by a participatory land-use planning process that helps to protect the rights of local people through securing traditional land tenure rights, as well as building their capacity to engage in natural resource management and develop their livelihood options. A sustainable finance initiative is seeking to increase long-term funding of the SPF, exploring mechanisms such as payments for reducing carbon emissions.
Law enforcement teams are led by staff from the FA, and include team members from other agencies, such as the Military Police. They operate by vehicle and on foot from a central headquarters, with six outposts located at strategic points within the SPF facilitating increased patrol coverage in more remote areas. Patrols target major crimes such as logging, large-scale land-grabbing and commercial hunting. Activities are recorded and fed back to the teams using a computerised system.
The project uses Participatory Land Use Planning as a method to negotiate management agreements with local indigenous communities, the first time this has been done successfully in the province. The site is also being used as an official pilot area for the development of legislation regarding communal titling of indigenous peoples' customary lands. Partner organisations have begun agricultural development follow-up work in villages that have developed land-use plans. Options for supporting local livelihoods that are compatible with biodiversity conservation are being piloted. These include village-based ecotourism, and community-based forest management in the buffer area of the SPF.
One of the primary strengths of WCS is the research it conducts to guide management action. Wildlife research at the site includes both exploratory work (inventories and single-species studies) and one of the largest, statistically rigorous, annual biodiversity monitoring programs in the Lower Mekong. Livelihoods research has included studies of forest product harvesting, fisheries management, and a longer term livelihoods monitoring framework is now being implemented.
A sustainable finance program is currently developing initiatives to ensure long-term financial support for conservation in the SPF. This is currently focused on the development of a Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD) project, which aims to generate carbon emissions reductions for sale on the voluntary market. The sale of these emissions reductions will be used to fund conservation activities at the site, while also providing incentives to local communities to engage in forest protection.
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