In the Cardamom Protected Forest in Southwest Cambodia, the 73 families of the Chumnoab community were deforesting the area for slash-and-burn agriculture and engaging in illegal wildlife trading to feed the Chinese medicinal market because they lacked economic alternatives.
IN DEPTH: Learn more about the illegal wildlife trade in Cambodia.
In 2006, CI and the people of Chumnoab began working together on ways to help the community develop while protecting key resources of the Cardamom Protected Forest, including one of the last populations of the threatened Siamese crocodile. CI and the Chumnoab community designed a conservation agreement that provided vital support such as such as buffalos and new tools for agriculture, resulting in the quadrupling of the community’s rice production. In return, the community agreed to stop slash-and-burn agriculture, and also committed to patrol the area to stymie illegal wildlife poaching and trading in exchange for wages, equipment and training.
Through the agreement, the community has stopped clearing 40 hectares (about 99 acres) of forest a year and pledged to protect 20,000 hectares (49,400 acres) of forest that includes key nesting areas of Siamese crocodiles. In 2007, 23 baby crocodiles hatched, which represented 10 percent of the global population in the wild.
EXPEDITION: Take a virtual trip to Cambodia's Virachey National Park.
Now similar conservation agreements with other local communities protect 110,000 hectares (271,800 acres) of tropical forest, and CI is working to create a $2 million conservation trust fund that would pay for conservation needs in perpetuity.
LEARN: Read more stories of community partnerships and successes.