Under the “Improving Ecosystem Management for Sustainable Livelihoods in Cambodia and China within the Framework of Lancang-Mekong Cooperation Project”, financed by the UNEP-China Trust Fund Phase 2, the Action Learning mission was organized during 24th to 27th October 2022 at the project pilot site - the Phnom Kulen National Park in Siem Reap province. Its overall objective was to find out how the project interventions contribute to improved livelihoods and more sustainable landscape management. The mission, led by Edmund Barrow (consultant for UNEP), consisted of one planning day with the project team from the Ministry of Environment, Government of Cambodia, two days working with four Community Protected Areas (CPAs) who are the beneficiaries of the pilot interventions, and one day on reflections with the project team and the Siem Reap Provincial Department of Environment. In this regard, Tatirose Vijitpan, the project focal point from UNEP-IEMP, also participated in the mission.
With the total participants of 72 (40 women), the mission collected reflections from the communities on the project interventions. In general, they found the interventions implemented so far (i.e. Integrating black ginger in cashew nut plantations; Bamboo for ecosystem management and local livelihoods; Free-range chicken; and Organic vegetables) helpful and still practice those interventions. There are, however, some more practical knowledge required. For example, some black ginger sites received too much rain that the black ginger became rotten underneath the soil; therefore the sites should be on the slope or hill. The communities are also well-aware of the benefits the project interventions have brought in terms of both their improved livelihoods and ecosystem management. Moreover, those project interventions are well-received because the communities are not allowed to clear more land to expand their cashew nut plantation in the national park; therefore those livelihood options can serve as promising alternatives, which also help to prevent deforestation for agricultural expansion (for cashew in this case). The communities also provided suggestions what they have learned in the process and what they wanted to do next. It is interesting to note that ladies dominated attendance and were very active in participation.
Figure 1 Community workshop
Figure 2 Project site for Integrating black ginger in cashew nut plantation
The results of this mission will become a basis for the project to further produce the knowledge products on “Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning (MEL) and Action Learning at Local and Integrated Landscape Management Levels”, led by UNEP.