A conservation scheme begun eight years ago in Preah Vihear province, in which farmers are recruited to grow organic rice for the international market in exchange for protecting local ecology, has successfully signed up 43 new families in Stung Treng province over the last year, according to a press release today.
An effort by Wildlife Conservation Society and BirdLife International, the Ibis Rice project guarantees incomes for participating farmers in selected conservation areas through the sale of organic rice above the market price. According to the statement yesterday, the 43 new families in Khek Svay village of Stung Treng’s Siem Pang Wildlife Sanctuary have committed to the project since last year. The project now has over 1,000 families participating, including in Preah Vihear’s Kulen Prom Tep and Chhaeb wildlife sanctuaries.
“If participants log or hunt [illegally], the project will not permit them to participate,” WCS spokesman Eng Mengey said yesterday, noting that using pesticides and chemical fertilisers, as well as land grabbing, is also not permitted, with the latter being monitored by satellite imagery.
According to Mengey, participants also report sightings of wild animals and bird nests to the NGO.
Siem Pang Wildlife Sanctuary covers 150,000 hectares and is home to about 20 percent of world population of the critically endangered giant ibis and half the world population of the critically endangered white-shouldered ibis.