InVEST Workshop for the mapping and valuing of Ecosystem Services in Mondulkiri Province
“Understanding where the most biodiverse and naturally rich areas are in Cambodia and the economic value these resources have towards local communities and the country as a whole, is imperative if we are to conserve these landscapes and the biodiversity they hold,” said Curtis Hundley, Chief of Party, SFB-Project, Winrock International.
Ecosystem services are the goods and services that nature provides us for free that are beneficial to our health and wellbeing, such as clean water, climate regulation, recreation and tourism. The problem is that these services are being hugely undervalued and this is leading to a loss of natural resources. By incorporating these ecosystem services into policy making and land use planning, areas that are rich in biodiversity / ecosystem services can be better protected, and economic development projects can be provided in areas of degraded land. This will ultimately provide greater protection to the resources that give us life.
Through the support and funding of USAID and the EU, the InVEST tool has been developed to geographically map ecosystem services and economically value these services in order to improve decision-making; in turn reducing the environmental degradation taking place. Under the USAID-SFB project and the European Union (EU) Project, WWF-Cambodia is supporting efforts to improve the distribution of ecosystem services equitable economic benefits from ecosystem-based management of forests in the Eastern Plains Landscape. This is being done through improving land use management and income generation opportunities from sustainable use and management of forest resources. WWF believe that mapping and valuing ecosystem services is the most important and fundamental step to incorporating these services into policies and consequently move towards a Green Economy in Cambodia. The InVEST tool has already been implemented successfully in countries such as Indonesia, Belize and China, and is now being introduced to Cambodia to help assist with sustainable policy making and land use planning.
“The EU acknowledges the importance of the InVEST tool and encourages its implementation to conduct an integrated valuation of the vital ecosystem services that are present in Cambodia. Using this tool, biodiversity and the natural resources that support local communities can be included in key decision making policies and protected within the region,” EU spokesperson.
In order to bring this tool to Cambodia, The Natural Capital Project (consisting of Stanford University's Woods Institute for the Environment, University of Minnesota's Institute on the Environment and The Nature Conservancy) worked collaboratively with RUPP and Mondulkiri
Provincial Government to learn how to develop and use it in the region. WWF then engaged with key stakeholders: provincial level government officials to develop scenarios. Scenario development is a key part of the tool and it involves developing alternative futures under different trajectories: a business as usual path, a conservation path and a green economy (or sustainable development) path.
The main aim of tomorrow’s workshop is to showcase how useful the InVEST tool can be and the potential significance it has when applied to political and economic decision-making processes in Cambodia. It has real potential to support the path to Sustainable Development in Cambodia, and the lessons learnt from mapping and analysis in the Eastern Plains Landscape can be scaled up to the whole country if the valuable, but finite natural resources are to be protected.
“The InVEST tool is a key step forward in protecting our natural heritage and moving towards a sustainable, green future in Cambodia”, Chhith Sam Ath, Country Director of WWF-Cambodia.