Radio Program and Listening and Dialogue Group Increases Participation in Forest Protection and Maintenance

Ms. Savath Savoeun, 25, is a listening and dialogue group facilitator in Samuth Krom village, Ratanakiri province. She is one of 20 listening and dialogue group facilitators who received training from Media for Education and Development in Action (MEDIA One) under the Oxfam America funded project, Building Indigenous Community Voice for Natural Resource Management in Northern Cambodia. After the training, Savoeun successfully formed a listening and dialogue group with over ten members and led regular group meetings.

Savath Savoeun facilitating a listening and dialogue group meeting

Before Savoeun formed the listening and dialogue group in her village, she observed that many villagers did not understand the importance of natural resource conservation and how they could participate in the protection of their natural heritage.

“My members didn’t have much understanding about their roles in natural resource preservation, protection and regeneration. After the meetings and discussions, I’ve found that we all have a much better understanding about the importance of forests and how we can protect them, “ said Savoeun.

Mrs. Bun Theanra, 30, is a member of Savoeun’s listening and dialogue group and was eager to share information that she had learned from the program.

“I learned that the forest is really important for our livelihood. Forests give us wood to build houses and foods such as mushrooms and bamboo. In addition, forests also protect us from storms, floods, and hot weather,” said Theanra.

After realizing that regeneration is an important part of natural resource protection and maintenance, Savoeun and her group members decided to plant trees at the local ecotourism resort and other key places throughout their community including village ponds and lakes. Supported by the Indigenous Community Support Organization (ICSO), the activity took place in September 2015. Over 30 villagers participated in the event and 122 trees were successfully planted.

“I’m really happy that I got to participate in this activity. It is important to plant more trees so that there will be forests for future generations. I don’t want our forests to be destroyed. If we don’t help preserve our forests, the next generation will never be able to know and appreciate them,” said Theanra.

Mr. Bou Limi, 34, is a member of the Community Forest Committee and is very supportive of the radio program and listening and dialogue groups.

“Before the radio program and the formation of listening and dialogue groups, there were never any regeneration activities in our community. This was the first one. The villagers became very interested in supporting regeneration efforts and we made this activity happen by working together. This activity had great participation from the community. The radio program is really useful, for it provides knowledge about natural resource protection and management. It makes the listeners, especially group members, aware of the benefits of the forest and inspires them to initiate regeneration activities,” said Bou Limi.

Villagers planting trees in September 2015

Villagers listen to the radio program during the village meeting

Mr. Phoun Sovan, a Commune Council Member of Seda commune, also recognized the importance of the radio program and listening and dialogue group.

“The radio program is good because it promotes information about natural resource protection and maintenance to the listeners—including listening and dialogue group members. And then, the members of the community spread and promote the information they have heard throughout the village. This program is really educational and encourages our communities to protect the land and forests. I am very pleased to support the program and the listening and dialogue groups,” said Phoun Sovan.

Savath Savoeun, Bun Theanra, Bou Limi and Phoun Sovan are hopeful that the radio programs will continue to be broadcast in the future—for their communities still face problems related to illegal logging, land grabbing, and water pollution. By continuing the project, Building Indigenous Community Voice for Natural Resource Management in Northern Cambodia, they are confident that the situation in their communities will be continue to improve.

Villagers plant trees at the ecotourism resort by Lumkot Lake