Posted on 26 January 2018
In order to achieve the most sustainable outcomes of our projects in the Eastern Plains Landscape (EPL), the conservation areas need to be looked as a one whole landscape.
In order to achieve the most sustainable outcomes of our projects in the Eastern Plains Landscape (EPL), the conservation areas need to be looked as a one whole landscape. This means not separating, for example, mining from deforestation, or large-scale agriculture from the subsistence farmer, or hydropower from river basin ecosystem services.
By thinking of factors in isolation that are actually linked in reality, it will inevitably lead to negative and unforeseen consequences. This is where ‘spatial planning’ in conservation can help to reveal these linkages, provide a framework for making smart conservation decisions, and create a whole picture of a conservation area where it previously lacked. It links multiple users of an area at multiple scales, assessing what natural resources are being used, why, where, and how.
To this end, a European Union (EU) funded project titled “Sustainable Biodiversity, Environmental, and Social Benefits in the Protected Areas of the Eastern Plains Landscape of Cambodia” conducted a two-day intensive spatial planning training session for a technical working group (TWG) comprising of various provincial department officials including Land Management, Urban Planning, Construction and Cadastre, Multi-sector from Provincial Hall, Environment, Agriculture, Public work and transport, Mining and Energy, Planning and Tourism from the EPL.
Over the two day workshop from 28th to 29th June, 2017 conducted at Pechrada guesthouse, Senmonorum, Mondulkiri province, the spatial planning coordinator of WWF-Cambodia, Ouch Mardy, and PhD student, Malyne Neang from Royal University of Agriculture provided conceptual learning of key spatial planning perspectives.
The aim of the training was to prepare steps, through spatial planning, to further understand land use, urban planning, and monitoring systems within the EPL. Additionally, the purpose of this training was for the TWG to be empowered through their new and specialized knowledge and to carry that through to their project areas; improving activity planning and monitoring processes and ecosystem services.
In true university style, the training was organized into four module sessions in a format consisting of formal lectures followed by practical exercises matching the new concepts and theory acquired. The practical exercises were organized to consolidate knowledge taught in the lecture and help the participants apply their new skills.
The four modules from the training focused on the spatial planning between ecosystems and industrial processes such as infrastructure, renewable energy, agriculture, agro-forestry, and mining. The modules were: green growth introduction, ecology intensity, best practices of sustainable agriculture in the EPL, and payment for environmental services programs.
The two-day training course received dedicated participation and positive feedback from the TWG. The participants evaluated that they appreciated the practical, hands-on focus of the course and were satisfied with the technical level of the course for not being on the one hand too simple to be useful or, on the other hand, too complex to understand.
However, they did indicate that additional time for some of the techniques would have been helpful and that perhaps a different, non-office setting might be better for course delivery in the future. Overall, the course was a success and has equipped EPL staff members with the spatial planning knowledge and expertise they need to enhance conservation work in the protected areas of Cambodia.