ISSUES & STORIES
FROM HUMAN STORIES TO THE ENVIRONMENT AND THE IMPACTS OF CLIMATE CHANGE, here's brief glimpse of some of the stories that are on my radar. Dear media colleagues, should any of these stories or issues be of interest to you, please do get in touch. E:
SECTION 1: ENVIRONMENT, CLIMATE CHANGE, DEFORESTATION:
TONLE SAP: FACING AN INCREASINGLY GRIM REALITY
The Tonle Sap lake, the world's largest freshwater inland fishing area and a critical player in the region's ecosystem, is in serious jeopardy. It is home to thousands of people who for generations have relied on its fish to sustain themselves and their families.
But after years of overfishing by large and often illegal operations, the construction of dams along the Mekong river and climate change, the lake and the livelihoods of "Floating Village"communities face an increasingly grim reality.
Fish are dwindling, water levels have dropped drastically, and communities fear for their survival as they plunge deeper into extreme poverty.
CAMBODIA's JUNGLES: DISAPEARING AT AN ALARMING RATE
Illegal logging, land grabs and agricultural and urban development projects are threatening the future of Cambodia's remaining rainforests. Clearcutting is becoming increasingly visible, cutting into once protected areas.
While much of this activity has been documented and reported along the Cardamon Mountain range in the south west Cambodia, deforestation is rampant other parts of the country, including the Preah Viher province which is rapidly becoming a deforestation hotspot.
Despite being declared a protected area, the Cambodia Wildlife Sanctuary which covered one million acres of pristine jungle in its 2004 agreement with the Cambodian government, is being rapidly depleted by the encroachment of agricultural development and new settlements.
TURNING TO BUDDHIsM to save Cambodia's JUngles
Deforestation is a major problem in Cambodia, and some people are turning to spiritual leaders to help protect the country's trees and forests from being logged illegally on protected lands and conservation areas.
During a visit to the Cambodia Wildlife Sanctuary, I learned of a method being utilized to discourage illegal logging though a partnership with Buddhist monks. In a predominantly Buddhist country like Cambodia, monks perform blessings, and donate pieces of their robes which are then tied around trees with the hope of discouraging the cutting down of trees. It is believed that if a tree, bearing the cloth of a monk, is cut down it will bring about bad fortune to the person and family committing the act - not only in the person's present lifetime, but also the next one.
This method, I'm told, appears to be working.
SECTION 2: HUMAN STORIES & CULTURE:
FLOATING VILLAGE COMMUNITIES & CULTURE (THREATENED)
For generations, Cambodia's "Floating Village" communities have sustained themselves and their unique lifestyle as fishermen and women living in mobile floating homes and village communities. Rarely touching soil, they have adapted to a life on water, on the great Tonle Sap.
Today, with the diminishing health of the lake and a rapidly decreasing fish population, these communities are struggling to survive and face a very
uncertain future. Unable to sustain their families by fishing alone, many people are now forced to leave their homes in pursuit of work on land, in cities.
Through this story I seek to investigate and explore the impacts of this changing scenario on longstanding practices and the communities' traditional way of life...
SECTION 3: HUMAN STORIES & SMALL/LOCAL BUSINESSES:
CAMBODIA's LAST PAINTED TILE MAKERS
A French 19th century craft survives - miles away in Cambodia.
One of Cambodia’s last workshops of 19th century painted cement tiles lives on thanks to consumers who appreciate their authenticity, quality and beauty.
The technique, believed to have been imported by the French during the colonial era, involves a meticulous and breathtaking process that adheres to the traditional tile painting/making European craft. This family-owned business, however, is currently at risk because of cheaper mass-produced ceramic and cement tile imports that saturate markets with cheaper products. Will this workshop survive? (The owner of the workshop most certainly hopes so...)
How things are made - small-scale producers
From the way lotus plants are transformed and carefully woven into the most divine thread and fabric, bicycles made out of bamboo and raw materials, to how coconut milk is extracted from mature coconuts - there is no shortage of fascinating ways products and produce are created manually here in Southeast Asia.
If you're looking for highly visual processes that differ greatly from mass-produced and factory products, I invite you to get in touch.
There are many such stories here!