The residents of 16 villages in Ratanakkiri and Mondulkiri provinces have consented to the launch of the REDD+ project in the Lumphat Wildlife Sanctuary.

NatureLife announced on May 2 that under the auspices of the BirdLife International Cambodia Programme and the USAID-Green Heritage Project, it had spent the first four months of the year explaining the project to local communities. It organised consultations and asked for the permission of the 16 target villagers.

REDD+ is a framework created by the UN’s Conference of the Parties (COP) on climate change. It aims to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, as well as guarantee the sustainable management of forests and their conservation and enhancement, through the sale of forest carbon stocks in developing countries.

“The four-month consultation process went smoothly, largely due to the support and cooperation of the Ministry of Environment, Department of Environment, local authorities from the provincial level to the village, and the people of all 16 villages in both provinces. We organised large and small meetings, as well as home outreach visits,” the NGO said.

“We disseminated information about climate change and the REDD+ project to a total of 2,535 people, including several minority ethnic groups representing nine villages. After learning about the project, they gave their consent with no coercion,” it added.

Nine villages consented through fingerprinted documents, while seven did so through a show of hands.

Bou Vorsak, NatureLife director, said on May 3 that the Lumphat Wildlife Sanctuary Carbon Credit Project initiative is supported by the government via the environment ministry, which is responsible for the sustainable management of forests and wildlife.

“Before asking for the consent of the residents of the area, we made sure they understood the importance of the carbon credit scheme,” he added.

No REDD+ project may be implemented without the permission of the local population, as they are required to participate in the decision-making process of the project, he said.

“The money earned through the sale of carbon credits will be used to conserve and protect the forest, as well as improve the livelihoods of local communities,” added Vorsak.

The Lumphat Wildlife Sanctuary of the eastern highlands was established by Royal Decree in 1993. It covers a total area of 250,000ha, of which about 80 per cent is in Ratanakkiri province and 20 per cent in Mondulkiri province. It is important to the conservation of the Kingdom’s unique wildlife and biodiversity, and is home to some of the world’s rarest and most endangered species of bird.