The Earth’s Tropical Watersheds are rapidly being deforested with direct impact on global water supply. Satellite photography shows a decline of 468,743,757 acres of forest cover of the Amazon, Congo Basins and Southeast Asia with a steady loss of 18,749,750 acres per year . Studies have shown a direct correlation between this tropical deforestation and global reduction of rainfall in the U.S. and Europe [2-4]. The hardest hit by local deforestation droughts are the poorest communities. Where irrigation systems were installed to compensate for declining rainfall, underground water tables are now failing due to lack of forest watersheds to recharge the aquifers. Our goal is to establish a protection system in perpetuity to preserve one of the world’s largest tropical watersheds (the Cardamom Rainforest Landscape, Cambodia] and make it a global model for watershed and forest protection. We will implement protection and publicize the model through a global communications.
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This is a global problem affecting everyone. In April 2010 in New York, the World Bank held a high-level private meeting about global water scarcity and the need to find solutions. Because of this scarcity, private companies are scrambling to buy as many water sources as possible around the globe to ensure control over global water supply. Many technical-minded people think that desalinisation is the solution for the future. But this presents an extremely high cost to society. Our solution focuses more on natural solutions by looking back at where our fresh water is generated in the first place. Only 2.5% of the planet’s water supply is fresh water usable by humans. That small percentage is produced by forests, glaciers and ice caps. Every time a tropical rainforest is cleared, it destroys the rainfall regulation function and eliminates one or several bodies of fresh water. A good example is Honduras where the country’s largest dam, El Cajon, was built in 1985. Just 9 years after construction, the dam became non-functional because water levels dropped so severely (down to 200 feet) and electricity could no longer be generated, due to deforestation of the northern and northeastern watershed. We think that the most influential way to effect change is to develop one successful project that yields global benefits to mankind, and then leverage these through an international campaign. This project addressed two obstacles: (1) global preference for policy making over practical action, (2) global mindset that prioritizes technical solutions over nature-based solutions.
We will apply our model of practical, hands-on management of tropical forests to one of the Earth’s great watersheds, the Cardamom Rainforest Landscape to show that positive change can be implemented and will result in distribution of large-scale local and global benefits of sustainable water supply and survival of mankind. We will implement our solution across three phases: Phase 1: Expanding our law enforcement and protected area management infrastructure and capacities across the entire 17,358-km2 Cardamom Rainforest Landscape. Phase 2: Support for effective implementation of law enforcement patrolling, good governance guidance, and focused community interventions across the entire Cardamom Rainforest Landscape. Phase 3: Promoting the approach of Wildlife Alliance, the Cardamom Rainforest Landscape, and Cambodia as a model biosphere of the value of Nature Based Conservation Solutions. As such the project will have an immediate and direct positive impact on the Cardamom Rainforest Landscape with its globally significant biodiversity and ecosystem servicing properties. The latter provide clean water to almost 3,000,000 Cambodian citizens as well as acting as a significant carbon sink and supporting critical fisheries in the gulf of Thailand. As such our Solution (Phases 1-2) will have a deep and intense impact on a limited, albeit significant, population and geography. But our ambition lies in Phase 3 during which we will promoting our work, and the Cardamom Landscape, as a model biosphere and galvanizing a paradigm shift towards Nature Based Conservation Solutions across a large and significant global geography.