We at Wildlife Alliance would like to clarify the allegations that the Southern Cardamom REDD+ Project was designed and implemented without consent from indigenous people and local communities.
In response, Wildlife Alliance states the facts that:
- Since the year 2,000, Wildlife Alliance has been working in the Cardamoms Rainforest Landscape.
- From 2003 to 2012, Wildlife Alliance helped facilitate the Participatory Land Use Planning Process in 14 communes of the Cardamoms. This Participatory Land Use Planning process was not yet formalised into the process now called “FPIC”. Similarly, the Southern Cardamom REDD+ Project was not yet initiated.
- The entire Participatory Land Use Planning process was conducted with full consultation and the full consent of the indigenous people and local community in 14 communes.
- From 2012 to 2016, Wildlife Alliance helped facilitate the measurement of 12,248 parcels of private land, pursuant to Order 01BB with the Ministry of Land Management.
- As a result, 4,999 hard land titles have been issued as of June 2023.
- The remaining 7,249 hard land titles are anticipated to be issued in 2024.
- For the Chhay Areng Valley, where a planned hydropower dam was expected to flood six of the eight villages, only two villages were measured by the Ministry of Land Management, pursuant to Order 01BB. Ultimately, that hydropower dam was cancelled in 2015, and a new process of land registration had to be started with these six Chhay Areng villages.
- Just recently, on September 26, Wildlife Alliance hosted a ceremony celebrating the anniversary of CBET Chhay Areng and the Chong indigenous people. At this event, presided over by the Koh Kong Provincial Authority and Wildlife Alliance, the provincial authority announced that the land registration for those six villages in Chhay Areng will officially start in January 2024. This was very well received by the villagers.
Wildlife Alliance has been actively engaged in dialogue with the organisation that is issuing the allegations against the Southern Cardamom REDD+, providing detailed rebuttals to their concerns.
Based on these allegations, Verra, the international standard for certifying REDD+ projects, has halted any further issuances of VERs from the Southern Cardamom REDD+ project,until the findings of their quality review are addressed to their satisfaction. The quality review was completed at the end of July 2023, and resulted in a set of technical questions to be addressed.
We are confident that the research will show that the Southern Cardamom REDD+ Project is a responsible and effective conservation initiative that benefits both the environment and the local community. We are requesting that the review be comprehensive and should also include the positive impacts of the Southern Cardamom REDD+ Project on the communities and the forest.
We strongly believe that while the Southern Cardamoms REDD+ is preserving the forest and promoting local livelihoods, it is also supporting the respect and protection of human rights.
In summary, 3,957 families are directly benefiting from the Southern Cardamom REDD+: 94 water wells and 7,800 metres of water distribution infrastructure, schools, bridges, university scholarships and 509 families directly benefiting from livelihoods.
• 332 families directly benefiting from CBET Chi Phat
• 156 families directly benefiting from CBET Chhay Areng
• 23 families directly benefiting from improved agriculture in Chhay Louk
• 253 families directly benefiting from improved agriculture in Sovanna Baitong
• 16 full scholarships for bachelor's degrees in Phnom Penh
• 94 solar-powered water wells
• 2 schools
• 11,000m new road
• 17,000m rehabilitated road
• 34 culverts
• 1 bridge
• 77 toilets