Khiri Reach funds reforestation

SINGAPORE, 22 February 2024: Khiri Reach, the charitable arm of Khiri Travel, has donated USD15,000 to the One Million Tree reforestation project in Koh Kong and Sihanoukville provinces in Cambodia. 

The charity has pledged to support the project for at least three years.

The Cardamom Mountains in southwest Cambodia; Suwanna Gauntlett, founder and CEO of Wildlife Alliance, receives the cheque on 15 February from Khiri Reach, represented by John Black, GM of Khiri Travel Cambodia & Laos and Dara Sum, Khiri Reach ambassador, Cambodia.

Run by Wildlife Alliance, the project is planting hundreds of thousands of tree saplings to restore forest areas burned or cleared by land grabbers and loggers.

The aim is to reforest the cleared areas so that biodiversity and habitat can recover. The Southern Cardamom mountains harbour the world’s last wild, unfragmented Asian elephant corridor. Like hundreds of other mammals, birds, insects, and plant species, its survival depends on adequate forest habitat.

Replanting indigenous species of trees maintains ground moisture, reduces local climate overheating in the dry season, and mitigates the problem of landslides and flash floods.

After initial cultivation in a nursery near Chi Phat village in Koh Kong province, the replanted saplings on the illegally cleared land are then protected and maintained by Wildlife Alliance for a minimum of five years.

The project has reforested 4.2 million square metres of cleared land in Koh Kong and Sihanoukville provinces.

The new donation from Khiri Reach is helping the nursery expand its capacity from 190,000 saplings to 265,000, all under shade nets with irrigation to help them grow.

“The Million Tree project is exactly the kind of initiative that Khiri Reach likes to contribute to,” said Khiri Reach chairman and founder of Khiri Travel Willem Niemeijer. “It is run with the local community, under professional supervision and with clear metrics and goals.”

Khiri Reach, in turn, raised its donation from Khiri Travel guests who wanted to contribute to a carbon offset and nature regeneration initiative.

Wildlife Alliance founder and CEO Suwanna Gauntlett noted: “We are very grateful for Khiri Reach’s donation and ongoing support. We also invite other potential donors to follow the Khiri example and support the project in any way possible.”

Wildlife Alliance, as the project owner, hires local community workers in both the nursery at Chi Phat and at the reforestation sites. Situated just outside the village of Chi Phat, the One Million Tree Nursery cultivates 18 species of native rainforest tree saplings.

Depending on the species, these are ready for field planting after six to 12 months. The areas are strategically chosen to regenerate the forest where it was burned and cleared by land grabbers. Maintenance is carried out over five years after the planting. This period is crucial to minimising losses and ensuring the establishment of enduring ecosystems. Maintenance activities include regular soil enrichment and the replacement of lost saplings.

Track record over two decades

“For over two decades, Wildlife Alliance has worked in partnership with local communities and the Government of Cambodia to preserve nearly four million acres of dense monsoon forest in the Cardamom Rainforest, maintain freshwater reserves of 22 major waterways, and – as a direct result – keep local temperatures stable at an average of 32 degrees centigrade all year round.”

She added: “The vast majority of indigenous peoples who live in the Southern Cardamom Rainforest agree that the REDD+ carbon offset program has been hugely beneficial. None of this would have been possible without the funding generated under the REDD+ carbon forest offset programme.”

Niemeijer said: “Khiri Reach will continue to work closely with responsible, professional organisations, such as Wildlife Alliance, that are implementing vital conservation and regeneration projects.” 

Khiri Reach also supports reforestation projects in Siem Reap in Cambodia and Chiang Rai, northern Thailand. It also contributes to a seagrass initiative in Sri Lanka.

“With the Khiri Reach regenerative travel fund, we invite Khiri Travel customers and partners to support these projects with each booking they make,” Niemeijer concluded.

(Source: Khiri Reach).
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