Community-Based Eco-Tourism in the Cambodian Cardamom Mountain Range (Chi Phat)
In late 2008, I joined one of the first public trips to Wild Alliance’s community-based eco-tourism project in Chi Phat (Southern Cardamom Mountains).
Providing economic development in rural areas of Southeast Asia, while protecting the environment and wildlife, can be a major challenge. To address these related goals, Wildlife Alliance is supporting ecotourism development in the Southern Cardamoms Mountains, working with local communities like Chi Phat.
This commune of four small villages totalling roughly 2500 people is located in the Cardamoms Protected Forest, in an area that was severely affected by guerrilla warfare and bombing. Economic development stalled for decades due to conflict and economic isolation.
Covering 6% of Cambodia, the Cardamoms are home to most of the country’s large mammals and half of its birds, reptiles and amphibians, including globally endangered and threatened species like Asian Elephants, Indochinese tigers, Malayan sun bears, Pileated gibbons, Siamese crocodiles, and Irrawaddy and Humpback dolphins. The Cardamoms includes a vast ecosystem with sixteen vegetation types, from dense evergreen rainforest to lowland swamps to coastal mangroves.
Wildlife Alliance began working in Chi Phat Commune in the heart of the Southern Cardamoms to implement Community-Based Ecotourism (CBET) as a way of conserving a region of exceptional natural and cultural significance. Wildlife Alliance is supporting Chi Phat in its effort to develop economically and ecologically sustainable tourism opportunities including trekking, mountain biking, wildlife viewing and bird watching, and improving access to waterfalls and Khmer Empire burial jar sites.
Read more about Chi Phat and other eco-tourism opportunities in Cambodia at the websites below: