|Rice paddy terracing is common in Pu Luong|
|It's a lush landscape|
As with many similar landscapes and communities, there are considerable threats from land encroachment, population growth and development that forces the local community to exert increasing pressure on the natural resources that they rely on for their livelihoods. Forests are becoming degraded thus threatening local livelihood security as well as biodiversity. Additionally, large scale tourism development has been mooted by the Provincial People's Committee and associated departments, development that would significantly alter the character of the landscape, damage natural resources, place increasing pressure on biodiversity, whilst at the same time further marginalizing the local population.
|Community members in consultation workshop|
My role was to lead and capacity build a national team from Fauna and Flora International through the ecotourism process to develop an equitable and pro-poor ecotourism plan to guide the two year project. This was completed in five main stages:
1. Meeting with provincial, district and commune decision makers
|Water wheels for irrigation and power generation|
2. Conducting an extensive tourism resource survey in the nature reserve
The team travelled extensively throughout the nature reserve, meeting local communities, observing key social, cultural and natural features, and other tourism related resources and issues.
3. Holding in-depth community consultations
|Rice paddy on the valley floor|
4. Developing an equitable ecotourism plan for Pu Luong
The plan identified 18 key action points to achieve comprehensive sustainable and equitable ecotourism in the nature reserve. Of these, the following were identified as priorities:
|Ladies carrying fuel wood|
- Develop and implement tourism zoning and management (using Recreation Opportunity Spectrum methodology)
- Implement guidelines, codes of practice and regulations to ensure low-impact and equitable tourism
- Establish and support a community tourism association
- Develop local Value Chain to add-value to tourism
- Work with in-bound and local tourism operators to ensure they allow more financial benefits to reach local communities
- Implement entry fee system to fund conservation activities
- Develop small scale handicraft programme, utilizing existing skills and products
- Implement tourism awareness training to key stakeholders
5. Developing, discussing and agreeing next steps in a multi-stakeholder workshop
The team ran a final consultative workshop with key stakeholders including nature reserve managers, tour operators, provincial decision makers and local communities. Here, wishes of the local communities were presented along with the above action points. Discussions were held, and pledges made for support, and importantly, approval was publicly agreed to support the plan.
|Village consultation workshop|
Key challenges as always remain the large number of provincial agencies that are responsible for management of different aspects of the nature reserve, big business pressurizing inappropriate development for the site, and local capacity to ensure project momentum is maintained.
Click here for pictures.