Pulse of the Forest. The state of the Greater Mekong's forests and the everyday people working to protect them

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Carroll, Joshua
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In the thriving wilderness along Cambodia's eastern border, Han Sakhan witnessed the destruction as illegal loggers and poachers ran rampant in the forests around him. In Vietnam, Nguyen Huu Hoa, a "forest invader" who cut rattan in a protected area, grew alarmed at the toll this took and the impact on wildlife. And in Myanmar, Hey Mer watched in despair as the forests surrounding her village fell to agricultural expansion. Stories like these are typical across the Greater Mekong region, consisting of Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia. Forests here are under assault from industrial agriculture, illegal logging, and infrastructure projects including roads and dams. The situation looks dire, and it may be tempting to lose hope. But every day people are winning small victories across the region that are beginning to add up to a brighter future. Today, Nguyen Huu Hoa protects the forests he once plundered, freeing animals trapped by poachers and confiscating snares. Han, too, is now an accomplished ranger, who is proud to have been the first in Cambodia to arrest an elephant poacher. Hey Mer, meanwhile, may soon make a little piece of history. She is among those working to offer the world's first ever certified deforestation-free rubber. These small victories are a vital starting point in a massive effort that aims to reverse a powerful trend against great odds. The challenge lies in replicating these victories at a large enough scale to save the Greater Mekong's forests from devastation. Can businesses and markets be turned into a force for good in our forests, instead of a threat? How many smallholders, like Hey Mar, can conserve forests while feeding their families and saving for their futures? And can small enterprises, like furniture workshops, help keep species from going extinct? Across the region, people are beginning to answer these questions with actions that should give us hope. If we believe our forests are worth saving - and overwhelmingly we do - we need to promote the tireless, on-the-ground efforts of communities, the painstaking policy work and the promising market transformations that are laying the foundation for a deforestation-free future.

Subject Keywords
Forests, Certification
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Review year
Alternative Strategy
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Pest Type
Alternative Trial
Coverage Country
Viet Nam
Lao People's Democratic Republic
Active Ingredient