Conservation is a social process, whereby the culture, history and livelihoods of a community are all intertwined with how they interact with their environment. The indigenous Khmer Dauem have been living in Cambodia’s Cardamom Mountains for many years and, through their customs and traditions, have been protecting the critically endangered Siamese crocodile and endangered Asian elephant.

Due to recent natural and human events, however, these indigenous communities have had to change many of their ways and traditions, making it more difficult for them to live their lives according to the values they hold and to produce enough food to live healthily. They have become more vulnerable, suffering on average over three hunger months a year, having poor nutritional status and making an average income as low as US$0.50 a day.

This project was formed through discussions with the communities on their issues, needs and wants, and focuses on four main themes. The first aim is to improve food security by providing technical training on rice and chicken farming using a sustainable community participation methodology. The second aim is to boost incomes by improving business acumen alongside strengthening market systems for these isolated communities. Thirdly, the project will build the communities’ capacity to monitor and protect their environment. Finally, the communities will be provided with training on their rights and will be connected to agencies able to help if they come under threat.