Supporting Sustainable Market-Based
The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) is a science-based global conservation NGO protecting regions which are biologically outstanding and where the long-term conservation of species and ecological processes is viable.
Within these regions, WCS’s Conservation Enterprise Development Program (CEDP) fosters and incubates promising new and existing enterprises and business concepts with the highest long-term potential for conservation, social, and economic returns. CEDP supports local people in developing new rural enterprises that add value to agricultural products and practices, increase family incomes, promote sustainable natural product harvesting techniques, and generate ecotourism revenue.
Croeni Charity supported the addition of a CEDP Regional Advisor to WCS staff in order to advance the program’s objectives across Southeast Asia.
The Conservation Enterprise Advisor visited emerging conservation enterprises around the Ayerwaddy Delta in Myanmar, Nam Et-Phou Louey (NEPL) National Protected Area in Laos and Mondulkiri Province in Cambodia to assess their potential and advise on the next steps to develop these enterprises into financially viable, sustainable businesses.
Specifically, the study focused on dolphin ecotourism, wildlife trekking tours, coffee, peanut and rice farming, and carbon credit trading. The outcome was a detailed report describing the current situation, challenges, potential and recommendations for developing each of these enterprise to achieve sustainable profit, benefit local communities and produce positive conservation outcomes at the same time.
In broad strokes, the study concluded that:
- Dolphin ecotourism offers a unique, high-quality product that combines cultural and natural tourism in exciting and attractive ways. The challenge lies in improving the organization and booking system, capturing more financial value, and liaising with the Ministry of Tourism to create agreement on the approach to ecotourism in the protected areas.
- Wildlife trekking tours work extremely effectively with local communities and provide stunning scenery with incredible trails and deep-forest accommodation at affordable prices. However, they fail in connecting themselves to the market and the target demographic, a situation which can be remedied with adjustments to the marketing approach and improvements of the accommodation and transportation infrastructure.
- Coffee growing works well with the remote communities in NEPL to produce high quality, high altitude, organic coffee, bringing significant improvements based on conservation compliance. The main challenge is in ensuring quality and adding value to the product to both incentivize farmers and to cover processing, marketing and compliance monitoring.
- Rice and peanut farming in Myanmar represent challenging conservation enterprises, mainly due to current high levels of chemical inputs, need for incentivizing conservation-compliant farmer behavior and limited means of monitoring compliance.
The report was submitted to WCS for consideration and actionable next steps.