> …THAN IN THE INTEGRATION OF EACH COMPONENT IN A BROADER GOAL
Our central idea: the exceptional environment of Prek Toal is the best asset for the development of the local communities.
The community-approach to conservation approach of Osmose activities is complementary to the scientific work led by the Wildlife Conservation Society
. At the project’s initiation in 1999, the bird colonies of Prek Toal (pelicans, ibis, darters, storks) were seriously threatened by massive egg and chick collection by local people. In 2001, a conservation team enrolled 25 local villagers, mostly converted poachers, to protect the bird colonies. The team work proved to be a huge success: no more incidences of egg or chick collection were noted since 2004, and the bird populations have recovered, sometimes dramatically. For example, the colony of darters which had been on the brink of extinction (250 couples in 2002) is now the largest in the world with more than 7000 nesting pairs!
Osmose is closely linked with this conservation success thanks to its environmental outreach program, for children, direct economic benefits through ecotourism and indirect social support for poor households. Through its interventions, Osmose initiates, tests and supports innovative, non destructive and ecologically sustainable use of natural resources. Bridging activities allow the integration of the different components. Tourists are guided in the core area by a ranger, and witness the conservation work; they also visit an environmental education class. Local children travel to ranger observation platforms and watch the nesting colonies. These activities create interactions between different actors and beneficiaries, as well as inter-generational and inter-cultural exchanges. They cement the project as a consistent entity. At the beneficiary level, the fundamental link between the families and all the actions is embodied by the 'Osmose bird', carrying a simple message: to protect the environment with Osmose improves the livelihood of my family. This makes of Osmose a change catalyst at the level of the villages where it operates.