The Family Tree – fair trade for mass tourism

LOGO_Inspiring Stories from Destinations_2012-page-001The seeds of the Family Tree were planted in 2006

The Family Tree boutique store in Hua Hin, Thailand, sells a unique collection of handmade arts, crafts, clothes, cosmetics, jewelry and other meaningful gifts made by over 40 community groups, social and environmental projects and inspired independent artists from around Thailand. The store fuses fair trade policies with a responsible tourism mission to offer genuine, local community and environmentally friendly products to visitors to Thailand’s Royal resort town.

Dtor and Peter share their inspirational journey in creating a family business with a heart…’for crafts, culture and community.’

Who?

Premruethai (Dtor) was born in Sri Saket, North-eastern Thailand. She is native Kuy, an ethnic group living on the Thai-Cambodian border. Kuy people have a distinct culture, language, arts and crafts. From childhood, Premruethai was surrounded by silk, artisans, festivals and the friendly warmth of rural Thai life. Premruethai loves her roots and has worked for years to support social, cultural and environmental work in her village. She works closely with a network of Buddhist Monks and laypeople who are striving towards a green and good Thailand.

Peter was born in England. He has lived in Thailand for 12 years, inspired by Thailand’s culture, colour and diversity. Peter has been an English teacher, the Regional Responsible Travel Coordinator for Intrepid Travel and worked with Thai colleagues to establish the Thailand Community Based Tourism Institute, which works alongside Thai communities to set up cultural exchange programs to share local Thai life and culture with visitors.

What’s it all about?

Between 2006 and 2011, Peter and Dtor worked with local Kuy women in Dtor’s home village, assisting them to establish a community group, called ‘Tae Moh Hai,’  meaning ‘Our Friends Hands’, in local Kuy language. The couple supported the women to continue their culture of natural silk dying and weaving and provided additional training in cutting and stitching. They also lead tree planting and environmental awareness activities with local youth and the village temple.

Dtor and LouieLiving in the village was rewarding, but it was also remote and very far from customers, which made it difficult to grow their project into a sustainable enterprise. Therefore, in 2011, the couple decided to open a shop which could support many different good causes. Peter and Dtor decided to plant their ‘Family Tree’ in Hua Hin, a charming, family-friendly Thai beach resort. Their unique boutique store sells arts, crafts, clothes, cosmetics, jewelry and other gifts handmade by over 40 Thai community groups, environmental and social initiatives and inspired independent artists who are working to keep Thai arts vibrant and alive.

The Family Tree is located at the heart of Hua Hin’s tourist center, at 7 Naresdumri Road. This is a historic street lined with wooden shop-houses, many of which have been converted into restaurants.  By offering authentic, meaningful, Thai arts and crafts, and sharing inspiring stories of Thai artisans and social and environmental initiatives Dtor and Peter opened a new space to buy beautiful products, while learning about and supporting great work across Thailand…

Who do we work with? Our partners’ stories:

The Family Tree team search the country for artisans, community groups and families with their own inspiring stories. We want to support people who are doing something good for Thailand’s culture and environment. Some examples of our partners include:

  • Ajarn Kor, Thailand’s No 1 master of natural-dyed silk, who learned the secrets of natural dying from his mother in law, then thestablished a women’s group in her village creating work for local families. Ajarn Kor has now won numerous awards at national and ASEAN level;
  • Manorom, a group of artisans with HIV-AIDS, who make jewelry from disused coconut shells. The group members are able to earn a living, develop skills, maintain a sense of dignity and community, and rise above loneliness through fellowship and recognition for their achievements;
  • A rural community group in Ubon Rachathani, who love traditional Thai arts and want to keep them alive. Villagers work together to paint vibrant scenes of traditional Thai life, often continuing to farm, and working during quiet seasons!

The Family Tree is a real experience

Informationv2Visitors to the Family Tree can enjoy an informative and hands-on experience. You can browse photos of artisans, read articles with information about how products are made, and see and touch examples of various types of equipment. A highlight of the shop is traditional, hand-made, natural-dyed silks. Visitors can see various natural dyes, and even admire Dtor’s great grandmother’s blouse, hand-dyed using ebony seeds and still deep black after 85 years!

Children are very welcome, and can enjoy the Family Tree kids corner, where they can let off some steam playing traditional musical instruments and games.

Why Fair Trade?

The Family Tree wants to benefit the artisans who make our products, our customers, our country, the environment and our family. The Family Tree are for Fair Trade because this movement respects and values producers and customers as people, working together towards a better life and a better world. This is a meaningful goal.

Our 10 Principles of Fair Trade

Businesses which aspire to be ‘Fair Trade’ are required to operate according to 10 principles. Some examples of our commitment put into practice include:

Creating opportunities for economically disadvantaged producers: 100% of our products are made in Thailand. At least 90% of our products are sourced from Thai community groups, social and environmental initiatives, small family businesses and rural artisans.

  1. Transparency and accountability: ‘Keystone’ pricing. Artisans receive an average of 50% of the retail price. This equals over US$100K direct to local producers since 2011. The remaining income covers our shop rent (in a central, expensive area), staff salaries, utility bills, marketing, taxes, etc. We are aiming for a 5-10% profit. We take pride in providing high-quality information about our artisan partners to our customers.
  2. Fair Trading Practices and Mutual respect: We pay on time, and pay in advance on request. We don’t copy designs.
  3. Payment of a fair price: We consult with producers over prices. We accept requested prices and test the market. We don’t push prices down.
  4. No child labour We always ask if children are employed and do not buy from businesses using child labour. However, we do support children learning / practicing arts and crafts, for short periods of time (1-2 hrs per day), in safe conditions, supervised by responsible adults.
  5. No-discrimination, gender equality: The Family Tree is managed by Premruethai (Dtor), with 2 female staff and Peter!
  6. Good working conditions: We always ask about working conditions. We visit regaular suppliers to check for ourselves;
  7. Providing capacity building: We motivate and educate our team and our customers about fair trade and environmental issues. We have provided training for women in Sri Saket since 2006, and will do more with other community groups in the future.
  8. Promoting Fair Trade: through Facebook, our website, and competitions like this one!
  9. Respect for the environment: Minimum contributions to environmental work are budgeted as fixed costs. We offer earth-friendly products made from recycled paper, plastic, leather, silk, and wood. We search for and support government and NGO environmentally friendly products. We also helped to initiate the Greener Tomorrow project to plant 84,000 trees. This is alongside Thai Buddhist Monks and community members in Chaiyaphum province, in North Eastern Thailand. The Family Tree team have donated over $3000 USD directly to this project, and have raised more than $10,000 USD through an English language website and campaigns in our shop and on Facebook. Our shop also uses LED lighting, no A/C and recycled equipment!

For a Green and Good Hua Hin – Our Destination!

Our team understand that travelers visit destinations, not shops! We want Hua Hin to attract more guests who care about the environment and local communities. Therefore, we actively promote local community groups, organic coffee shops, local markets and other interesting spots around Hua Hin to our visitors, and encourage our customers to visit these places.

Our customers have given us great encouragement, and helped the Family Tree to reach the Number 1 spot for Shopping in Hua Hin on Trip Advisor!

We are excited to meet people from around the world, and introduce visitors to our products and the stories of the inspired artists which made them. Our work helps to prove that with quality products and information, time and enthusiasm, mainstream tourists can be engaged by Fair Trade and Responsible Tourism.  We are having a great time working with our partners, meeting our customers and enjoying family time with a mission for people and planet!

The Family Tree is open from 10.00 – 22.00 daily.

Contact Premruethai.t@familytree-huahin.com +66 (0) 81 809 5083

Training the new dive guides of Komodo

Wicked Diving in Indonesia are working with local communities to empower a long-term commitment to responsible dive tourism.

LOGO_Inspiring Stories from Destinations_2012-page-001The Komodo National Park area of Indonesia is one of the jewels in the nation’s crown. The Komodo dragons have ensured international recognition and a flow of tourists which is increasing year on year. The other major draw card for this area is the diving – touted by many to be some of the best in the world. There are a plethora of dive organisations who aim to introduce divers to the wonders of the Komodo’s underwater world and the people of Labaun Bajo are prospering as the town thrives and expands.

However, the people from Komodo themselves are some of the last to benefit from their natural inheritance. Ensconced on an island, battered by winds and scorched by sun, life is tough for the 1500 or so residents of Komodo village. This wonderful natural environment turns out to be the third poorest province in Indonesia. As a result, education and job opportunities for the young men and women growing up on the island are inadequate. The main profession is fishing which is a traditional vocation; however it is becoming less and less viable as all of our oceans and marine life suffer the effects of overfishing. It’s not unlikely that within a few decades artisanal fishermen will be unable to support their families, leading to a downward spiral of unemployment and poverty. The people of this area should be able to benefit and prosper from the natural resources and jobs created by an influx of tourists to the area.

mantaTo remedy this, Komodo has to be given back to the people, and what better way than to train the young people of the island to become dive guides. This is something that Wicked Diving set out to resolve by partnering with local organisation Komodo KITA. Based out of Labuan Bajo in Flores, Wicked Diving had already worked closely with Komodo KITA when they embarked on an SSI Instructor training programme to train 6 local dive guides from Labuan Bajo to Instructor level. A Dive Guide course can typically be provided to local guides on an internship basis, meaning the costs are absorbed and employment is given upon successful completion of the course. However the costs involved in an Instructor course can be very prohibitive to local dive guides, making it near impossible for them to progress within the industry. With full support of Komodo KITA and a number of external sponsors, Wicked Diving hosted the first ever SSI Instructor course in Labuan Bajo. The course was offered on a free of charge basis to 6 candidates. Wicked Diving’s contribution to this was firstly to donate their classroom and teaching facilities to the course. In addition, all diving training was completed onboard Wicked Diving’s boats, equipment was provided and full support, coaching and advice was given by our in-house instructors. At the end of the course, we were all delighted that 5 candidates went on to sit their Instructor Exam and became fully fledged SSI Open Water Instructors.

Throughout this process, Wicked Diving immediately recognised the merits of working with Komodo KITA and accepted an offer to come onboard and partner up to create opportunity for the young people of Komodo village. The programme began with the task of initial dive training, with was provided by the new SSI Instructors. 20 young men from the island were trained in 3 different diving courses; Open Water Diver, Advanced Diver, and Stress & Rescue Diver. This then set the candidates in a position to start considering a Dive Guide certification; however there was now the question of experience. It is possible for divers to become reach a ‘professional’ level with the minimal amount of experience, but does this make for a good guide?

A good dive guide needs experience in diving, the more dives the better, and a rounded understanding of what the ‘real-life’ role of a guide is like, not to mention language skills, a thorough understanding of dive safety and a likeable personality. This is where Wicked Diving was able to step in and share its skills and experience. Throughout June, July and August, the dive centre welcomed 5 interns from Komodo island, each of them for a 4 week period. During this time the Komodo interns were involved in all aspects of day-to-day life in our busy centre.

The dive centre offers a variety of trips to our guests. The interns in this programme joined our live-aboard trips, heading out into the National Park for 6 days and 6 nights on board our boats. They joined our day trips, both diving and snorkelling and were coached throughout the process. Their dive skills improved noticeably as their number of dives grew. They were taught about the importance of safety in diving and also respect for the marine environment. To have such early exposure to considered and respectful diving practices is incredibly important. It is easy to pick up bad habits when learning any skill, we have been able to not only ‘nip bad habits in the bud’ so to speak, but also explain to them the reasons why we do this. This is THEIR Komodo. Divers come here to enjoy the natural beauty of the area and they are able to be the new ambassadors for this. To understand the worth and fragility of the reef is invaluable.

Fauzi and Yadi clean the beach in the Komodo National ParkInterns were given important ‘face-time’ with our guests and always introduced as staff members. This was an integral part of the programme as it allowed them to develop the confidence of dealing with people from all over the world, something which can be very daunting at times. Diving is a very social industry and the interns were encouraged to spend as much time with guests as possible. This helped to convey Wicked Diving’s philosophy that a Dive Guide is much more than someone who leads you on a dive. It was also a great place for them to practice their conversational English. Towards the end of their internship, some of them even had the confidence to stand up in front of groups and give dive briefings with the assistance of our instructors.

Obviously, it doesn’t just end with the diving. We were able to teach the interns organisational skills within the centre, equipment care, handling and safe use and also give them exposure to sales. This is an industry where a smile can mean more than the words that were spoken, and in typical Indonesia style, they had this in abundance!

From a logistical stand point, we had to consider options for lodgings, as Labuan Bajo, where Wicked Diving is based, is not their home town. Wicked Diving provided food and board to every intern for the duration of their stay.

Each intern has and continues to work hard for us, something which has already been recognised by our guests and publicly through reviews on the internet. Based on this enthusiasm and tenacity, Wicked Diving decided that we would fulfil the complete Dive Guide course with the two most promising individuals from the programme. We have trained them to a level where they can successfully work for us as snorkel guides and both have already been given paid work in this area. We now enter a period of learning and they will be busily studying not only for their SSI Dive Guide certification, but also undertaking English classes. Wicked Diving and Komodo KITA will combine and fully fund their entire Dive Guide certification, provide access to English classes and also a full set of dive gear for each of the successful candidates. On completion of their training, the two new Dive Guides will be given a one year contract with Wicked Diving, starting from March 2013.

Wicked Diving, and its experienced staff members, are in the lucky position to be the experts in the diving industry. Without advice and support from seasoned dive professionals in a well-established business, candidates wouldn’t be able to receive adequate training the skills and guidance to ensure continued employability within the industry. In addition, by providing training in-line with the businesses core principals; safety, ethical practice and a fun and memorable guest experience, this will set the new Dive Guides apart from their peers. They will become actively involved in conserving their new home and natural inheritance.

Wicked Diving wholeheartedly believe that local people, native to an area, should have the means and skills to fully reap the financial successes of this area. All of our instructors are looking forward to working with our 2 chosen candidates to increase their employability and enhance the quality of their lives and that of their families. The hope is that programmes such as this will inspire more of the people who reside in Komodo village to become deeply involved in this programme and that these candidates will become role models to their peers. They will set a fine example of what can be achieved through motivation and training.

2013 Inspiring Stories from Destinations

LOGO_Inspiring Stories from Destinations_2012-page-001Congratulations to our 2013 Top 10 WINNERS of our Inspiring Stories from Destinations competition. This is our third year running this competition, and time after time, Wild Asia and our panel of judges (from the Green Circuit and Travel + Leisure Southeast Asia) are inspired and impressed by the level of commitment towards responsible tourism taking place in our region.

On Thursday 24th October 2013, we were delighted to host our Top 3 winners at ITB Asia as part of our responsible tourism series. And here, we would love to congratulate our Top 10 winners for their achievements in making the tourism industry a sector that strives to make positive social impact.

Each year, our judges look for stories that are unique, inspiring, able to encourage others to ‘copy’, and have a good reach in their impact. Ladies and gentlemen, get ready to be wowed!

Top 3 Winners

(in alphabetical order)

Top 10 Winners

(in alphabetical order)

Melhua the Fern Ecotel’s Mission for Waste Management in Mumbai

LOGO_Inspiring Stories from Destinations_2012-page-001There has been a significant increase in municipal solid waste generation in India in the last few decades. This is largely because of the rapid population and economic development. Solid Waste Management has become a major issue and to reduce its impact on health and the environment, Melhua the Fern has come up with the formation of the ALM (Advance Locality Management) program with partnership between citizens for sustainable and environment management.

ALM has been formed by Meluha the Fern in 2011 in Hiranandani Township for the segregation of Solid Waste Management at source where the ALM members and citizens are involved directly. Well publicized eco events, initiative, campaigns, information, and resources are organized from time to time to the city’scitizens to enable the practice of more environmentally conscious and socially responsible lifestyles. Monthly BMC ward meetings are being held and the staff presents at the BMC-Community meetings on several environment issues and discussions learn from the same. These meetings act as appropriate platform to one and all to discuss the urban issue with transparency.

Looking forward to working on many projects in the future for the welfare of Powai and the city the dedication of NGOs, like Stree Mukti Sanghatan workers, prompted Melhua to get involved with them in this ALMs project. They can work with housekeeping in each building to take away free of cost all dry garbage.

“It will lead us to not only a cleaner city, but eventually to a cleaner country”

Presentations and guideline are being presented to the local community, schools, colleges and co-operative housing societies for better understanding of garbage segregation. An interactive curriculum has been developed, targeting environmental sustainability as it relates to the business world for the college and school student studying environment practices thus truly enhancing their in-house programmes to the community outside successfully, adding value to the learning programs on how to implement practices in the world of sustainability which will help for the next generation too.

01_JVP0205Melhua’s efforts are aiming at reaching a zero garbage zone in Powai. They are also helping the B.M.C cut costs by saving on trucks coming to collect garbage. They invite other housing society buildings and corporates to join in making the area a garbage free Powai and look forward to a green collaboration with all business sectors. Waste management focuses on minimization and the 3R’s (Reuse, Reduce, Recycle). Melhua are fully committed to their sustainability policy by integrating innovation into environmental actions. Minimizing their carbon footprint by everyday activities and building in an environmental-friendly culture and communicating it to their local community, staff and guests is the right way to make sustainability.

Meluha is now a certified Ecotel and has the distinction of achieving Ecotel’s highest possible rating: Tier 1 with its average resource consumption reduction of 71%.

Some achievements include:

  • Approx. 39 to 45 kg of wet waste is converted into vermicompost per day and the rest is taken to piggeries.
  • 6 pits + 2 Nirmalaya pits (flowers) where wet garbage is treated and about 1500 kgs vermi compost is recovered per month.
  • All the other dry waste (non-recyclable garbage) is taken and recycled by Shah trading Co.
  • Car Free Day: Creating awareness to save petrol and pollution
  • Imparting knowledge in Ecotel practices to school students
  • Plant a sapling
  • Creating awareness by involving team members and guests in eco sensitive competitions

 

Homestays at the Bamboo Village – a rendezvous with nature and host community

LOGO_Inspiring Stories from Destinations_2012-page-001Subini Nair, an agri-engineering graduate and management consultant based in Kozhikode, Kerala, made a visit to the Bamboo Village in Wayanad. Inspired by what she experienced, she has joined the ethical-tourism NGO behind the homestay initiative. Here is her story…

My dream about India was more filled with the noisy crowded streets, festivals, wedding bands, political party processions blocking traffic, cows though praised to be holy found wandering around the upper class garbage heaps… But quite forgotten were those images seen in my childhood of the picturesque hilly landscapes and widespread green paddy fields.

622554_273536542750612_21655615_o (1)Coming up the narrow winding rugged roads up the Western Ghats as the Kerala Transport Bus grinded its engine, I was finally able to breathe the crisp and clean mountain air. Had I been blindfolded, I still could have guessed that I am in Wayanad. 2100 meters high above the sea level, braced by mountains and blending beautifully with lush green tea and coffee plantations, lies this kingdom of greens. Plenty of palm trees (‘Kera ‘as in Malayalam- the language of the state) where in Kerala derives its name from, the unending rice fields and the undivided plantain gardens took away all my weary air of the long haul.  The richness of resources, the refreshing climate, the biodiversity and the rural location makes Wayanad a perfect place to stay.

The name ‘Wayanad’ derives from ‘Wayal – Nadu’ (the land of paddy field in vernacular language) and reveals this piece of paradise’s agri-culture.  But here I spotted trouble in this paradise. Though nature has blessed here with abundance, the markets declined the prices of every crop from these hills which led to the devastating and seemingly hopeless situation for the farmer families eventually leading to many suicides.

The Bamboo Village – tiding the other direction

As we say: nature always shows a new direction during each crisis , it seems to be proven true for Wayanad. To flow the other direction as the river Kabani does unlike other major rivers of the state that flows westwards in Kerala. The “Bamboo Village” in Thrikkaipetta, no longer s much for the crop markets to decide their fate, but with the support of the organizations Uravu and Kabani,  today a village that was once never spotted on local tourist maps, has today become one the  much cited locations on the global tourist map.

Community driven initiatives

It is purely the love and livelihood of the community that is bringing tourists to visit this place, and even refers their friends to this village. Today there are seven homestays, with the number gradually expanding as the community imbibes tourism as an additional income for their families. A set of principles evolved with the values of the community including the clear understanding of waste management and effective utilization of village resources, makes the Bamboo Village shower harmony and becomes an example to the neighboring villages. KABANI – the other direction, an organization focusing on sustainable socio-economic development of villages and the conservation of natural resources, continues to share this philosophy by promoting more villages at different locations across India , in tune with their vision  of tourism always benefiting the local people, whilst neither diluting their culture nor harming the environment.

The meeting point of two worlds

DSC_0526The project caters for travellers who look for a very personal and ethical way to stay. The travellers are accommodated in family homes, sharing their hosts’ daily routine, getting to learn about their lives first hand, and tasting the wonderful flavours of home-cooked Keralite dishes. Your host welcomes you into their homes. Here I experienced a hospitality that does not begin and end merely with food being served to you and a room provided; but with families sharing their time and lives with you with no intrusion to privacies.

For the locals, this is a way to decentralize tourism and directly benefit from guests’ holiday budgets. As their homes can cater for a few additional guests, the initial investment is very low. In addition, a benefit sharing scheme makes sure that the entire village has its fair share: Half of the income from accommodation stays with the host families, another 30% goes to a village fund to provide professional trainings, support youth and the elderly, development of village level entrepreneurship, the annual jackfruit festival, and ongoing tourism development. The remaining 20% covers the expenses of the organization KABANI and its sustainable tourism activities.

A record of traditional knowledge – recapturing diluting culture

I met them!  Faces old and wrinkled eyes keen, bright and sharp.  Its anger and anguish, but hope. They see irresponsibility towards nature and living. The elders of this village were thrilled to talk about their times and traditions which offered me the best tips which I think can be solutions to our bigger problems.

Here they made a few tiny steps towards rebuilding a sustainable world from sustainable communities. Don’t you feel like being invited?!  They would love to know you.

India’s first ever reversal of a local extinction

&Beyond’s pioneering Gaur translocation project in Bandhavgarh National Park

LOGO_Inspiring Stories from Destinations_2012-page-001&Beyond’s pioneering model of low-impact, high-yield wildlife tourism is based on our ethic of Care of the Land, Care of the Wildlife, Care of the People. Tried and tested for more than twenty years, we believe in sharing the skills we have gained through the implementation of this model to benefit the preservation of wildlife not only in Africa but further afield. Our passion to ensure that we protect the great wildlife areas of the world, leaving a legacy for the next generation, has driven us to partner with conservation authorities in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh to carry out a ground-breaking translocation. Aimed at reversing the local extinction of the gaur in Bandhavgarh National Park, an additional goal of this public-private partnership was to carry out training and create the capability for Indian wildlife officials to complete subsequent relocations of other species on their own.

andBeyond_Gaur Translocation image 2v2For years, Indian conservation policy had focussed solely on the preservation of protected areas, with limited wildlife management. Indian forestry officials were aware that gaur had gone extinct in Bandhavgarh National Park, but were not sure how to reverse this extinction. While working with Madhya Pradesh Forest Department (MPFD) on establishing our circuit of four jungle lodges in India, &Beyond became aware of this situation. We immediately saw this as an opportunity not only to help restore a species to its natural habitat but to share our knowledge of translocation techniques and develop this capacity in the MPFD.

As a pioneer in responsible sustainable travel, &Beyond’s model of restoring and conserving regional biodiversity has often required animal translocations and re-introductions. As a result, the company has considerable experience in this area and Group Conservation Manager Les Carlisle has planned and implemented the translocation of more than 40,000 heads of wildlife in several African countries.

With &Beyond providing the expertise for the project, the initiative required five years of meticulous collaboration and planning with the Madhya Pradesh Forest Department, which oversees some of India’s largest tracts of protected land, and the Wildlife Institute of India (WII), which is responsible for the research that is used to help identify priorities and formulate guidelines for wildlife conservation in the country.

In the words of Dr HS Pabla, then the Chief Wildlife Warden of Madhya Pradesh, “Other than retrieving the lost biodiversity of Bandhavgarh, the project was aimed at building the capacity of the Madhya Pradesh Forest Department and the Wildlife Institute of India in the field of the capture and translocation of large animals. It was also meant to show what public-private partnerships could accomplish. Mridula Tangirala, Director of Operations at Taj Safari Lodges, and Les Carlisle, Group Conservation manager at &Beyond, worked tirelessly to obtain the approvals of their companies expeditiously. Les made several trips to India just to ensure that the construction of bomas and modification of trucks was exactly as required.”

The transfer of skills was a vital part of the project. Recognising the need to share Africa’s unique conservation skills, Indian conservation officials were invited to &Beyond Phinda Private Game Reserve to learn the techniques of darting and loading buffalo. During the planning phase, some of the best buffalo specialists in the world focused on teaching and re-creating their skills base in India. KwaZulu-Natal Wildlife staff took the Indian officials to inspect holding bomas and they were also given the opportunity to take part in animal capture exercises at Hluhluwe Game Reserve. The designs for animal capture trucks and stretchers were shared with the Indian team, who arranged for them to be adapted and re-created by an Indian company so that all the required equipment could be manufactured on the spot.

With the initial phase complete, the &Beyond team travelled to India to begin full scale training with the MPFD and WII teams. This stage included a few vital adaptations to the Indian national parks infrastructure. Reserves in India are not fenced, however Les Carlisle argued strongly for the need to build reinforced reintroduction bomas to contain and protect the gaur after translocation. As a result, a holding boma was constructed for the animals at Bandhavgarh National Park, where they were to be released. This would allow the gaur to become habituated to their new home and would keep tigers out of the newly reintroduced population until the animals had settled in.

The next phase of the project included &Beyond’s experts working with Indian officials to obtain the correct permits to import the drugs required and to translocate the animals. It took nearly a year to get the import permits into place and have the drugs sent to India. With a narrow window during the Indian winter when it is cool enough to subject animals to the stresses of the move, the translocation was planned for January 2011.

The total operation team consisted of more than thirty field rangers and another thirty senior officers. The field staff made up two stretcher teams of twelve to fifteen men. Ten days before the operation was due to begin, Les Carlisle began to practice each move of the procedure with the Indian teams. This training was crucial as it ensured that, once the operation began, every member of the team understood exactly what they were to do.

andBeyond_Les Carlisle_Gaur Translocation image 1v2As the operation moved into full swing, it became obvious that the training had paid off. As animal after animal was tracked, darted and then loaded in the translocation trucks, the longest it took for this process to be completed for one animal was 38 minutes. With recovery time after giving the antidote to the drug between one and five minutes, no animal took longer than 50 minutes from the time it was darted to until it was awake and standing in the holding boma, a time really difficult to achieve within the norms of animal translocation.

With the Indian teams rapidly becoming more experienced at what they were doing, after the first 14 animals &Beyond’s experts stood back, allowing them to dart and translocate the last five gaur on their own. Everything proceeded as planned and the relocation was a huge success, with 19 gaur safely darted and transported during the first test phase. A breakthrough achievement in Indian conservation, this translocation was followed by the subsequent movement of another 31 gaur in January 2012, this time carried out mainly by Indian wildlife authorities. This brought the total number of gaur moved to the recommended number of 50.

With the success of reversing a local extinction measured by how well the new population does in its environment, the gaur herd in Bandhavgarh has grown steadily over the years. Despite tiger-inflicted mortalities, the herd is thriving in its new home, with the recent birth of the 19th calf since the reintroduction.

The first partnership between a wildlife tourism operator and the Forestry Department in India, the translocation has cleared the way for the implementation of other conservation initiatives in Madhya Pradesh state and in all of India.

“Encouraged by the success of this project, the state has already proposed the translocation of several other species to reverse local extinctions in Madhya Pradesh. The barasingha is set to return to Bori Sanctuary and the blackbuck is going to return to Kanha. We can even dream of creating whole new wildlife assemblages from scratch if secure space is available, through the translocation of prey and predators from other sources, rather than waiting for ages to let it happen on its own. Let us hope that this project will prove to be a harbinger of change in our approach to conservation, which it was always meant to be. Perhaps we will no longer just wring our hands when the extinction of a particular species looms in front of us. We can now prevent or reverse such local extinctions, thanks to the Gaur Project,” sums up Dr Pabla.

 

Joining forces to save Kalawa Forest

Three friends from Kalimantan Tour Destinations share their journey towards their dream of ecotourism in Central Kalimantan’s rainforest…

LOGO_Inspiring Stories from Destinations_2012-page-001It was the beginning of 2008 and we were at last open for business!  The three of us shared a dream to develop and promote ecotourism to protect the important areas of rainforest in Central Kalimantan whilst improving the livelihoods of local communities. Our vision was a simple one, to enable our guests to experience the natural environment and the Dayak communities in a eco-friendly way.

Developing our vision took patience and perseverance; we developed a business plan that was chosen In September 2006 as a winner in the Business in Development Challenge sponsored by the Netherlands government.  This provided KTD with €6,000 prize money, important advice from a number of entrepreneurs, a network of contacts and a business plan that was able to attract additional investment from our own private funds.

Rehabilitation of a boat began in 2006 with a team of local boat builders, the demands of creating a boat with comfortable cabins, electricity, flushing toilets and flowing water proved to be too challenging. We suspended work on the boat and searched for a qualified boat designer and architect. By the end of 2006 we had found a British boat builder who was teaching boat building at the Surabaya Technical University and a local carpenter, who was contracted to complete the redesign.

pitcher plantIn 2007, we chose the occasion of Central Kalimantan’s 50-year anniversary celebrations to name our boat and the Rahai’i Pangun was formally named in a Dayak Kaharingan ceremony. We wanted our boat to have a Dayak name that would resonate with local people so we approached Bapak Lewis, an elder of the Dayak Kaharingan religion for advice, who proposed the name ‘Rahai’i Pangun’. Rahai’i Pangun literally translates into English as ‘big development’ and was the name of the boat of a former prince (bandar) who sailed to China and other countries bringing many great treasures to Kalimantan from his travels. Bapak Lewis hoped that the new Rahai’i Pangun would also bring prosperity to the villages she visits.

Final work on the boat was completed and the Rahai’i Pangun was moved from Kereng Bangkirai on the Sebangau River, where she was remodelled and constructed, travelling out to sea and back up the Kahayan River for a final fit out ready to start operating.

In February 2008 the Rahai’i Pangun was launched by the Governor of Central Kalimantan, Bpk. A.Teras Narang, and embarked on her first overnight maiden voyage.

We worked with the community to establish self-managed community entrepreneur groups to work with providing host services to visitors.  This helped to create alternative incomes and support the life and growth of the local culture. We also worked closely with our local stakeholders to share our learning (government, private sector, NGOs and communities) to promote ecotourism as a way of protecting the environment and creating alternative livelihoods.

Our eco-tourism business was taking off and we were invited to share our experiences, our capacity building approach to build boats paid off as we renovated our second boat the Spirit of Kalimantan and built another boat the Ruhui Rahayu, and two more boats were built by the government by the boat builder we had trained, in two different districts.

Kalwa Forest

G0030298This Forest known as Kalawa has an area of about 7,025 hectares and is under serious threat from oil palm interests and seasonal fires. Within the villages that have rights to the forest, the communities are split into different interest groups. Some want to log it before it is lost to forest fires. A palm oil company trying to gain rights to the land surrounding the forest is creating a further threat of encroachment. Some welcomed the oil palm and others were firmly against it.

We partnered up with local NGO YCI Yayasan Cakrawala Indonesia and a local adventure company Jurang Batu to work together with the villagers in developing a plan. An initial survey was carried out with the villagers to survey the forest, the team came across orangutan nests, evidence of the honey bear and interesting bird life but the forest was already under severe threat with many trees marked for felling.

The villages had plenty to interest the traveller, a long house and sandungs or bone houses used as a part of an elaborate ritual for the dead to be released to travel to the next world. The earliest missionaries came into Kalimantan and the twin graves of a husband and wife demonstrated how in those early days the missionaries risked losing their heads.

Buntoi chosen as a REDD+ (Reducing Emissions through Avoiding Deforestation and Devastation) demonstration village will shortly celebrate the opening of The Climate Communication Centre for  information and learning on environmental conservation and enhancement.

IMG_0303v2We facilitated a 3 day workshop to raise the awareness of the participants about the potential of managing their forest in a sustainable way and the consequences of the loss of the forest to their way of life.  The workshop had been a great success with the different factions united under a shared vision  to become an example of conservation and sustainability and to attract outsiders to share learning in the continuing challenge of climate change by regaining their  cultural wisdom that once kept the balance between the need to sustain their lives and the forest life.

In September the villagers will have their first guests, a group of six from Switzerland providing them with a real experience to try out their planned itineraries. This is a first step on a long road and we aim to keep building on this enthusiasm by continuing to work with them on implementing their plans and attracting tourists to be part of their challenge in saving a small bit of forest that means so much for these 4 villages.

Presentations From Responsible Tourism Events At ITB Asia 2013

On behalf of ITB Asia and the other co-organizers, Wild Asia would like to thank you for participating in the Responsible Tourism Clinics and Forum at ITB Asia 2013. We would also like to thank all our speakers who graciously spared their time to share their wealth of experience and knowledge with us. The outcome was overwhelming and we hope that 2013 will be bigger and better. Please contact rt@wildasia.org if you wish to be part of 2013′s Responsible Tourism events.

Below you will find the full set of presentations throughout the 3-day event. Click on the links below to view the presentations. Let’s continue to “Learn, Be Inspired and Make a Difference!”

—————————————————————————————————————————————–

Voluntourism – Are The Extra Hands Helping? by Martin Stevenson & Amy McLoughlin

Voluntourism is a growing travel sector and with it comes the pros and cons of volunteering abroad. For the volunteer, it can be a travel and learning experience, a new way of seeing the world while giving back, but for the local communities it may be disruptive, intrusive to local cultures and traditions or its benefits short lived. How effective and sustainable are voluntourism programs?

Martin Stevenson – Voluntourism Through The Eyes of A Backpacker 

Amy McLoughlin – The PEPY Story 

Impact Of Sustainability Initiatives On Customer Choice by Kumud Sengupta

What impact do sustainable business practices by travel companies have on travellers’ choice of a travel service provider (hotel, resort, tour operator etc.)? A survey was commissioned by Market Vision in mid-2013, aimed to determine the extent to which demonstration and promotion of sustainability initiatives by travel companies can impact customer choice behaviour. The results suggest that, all else being equal, a certain proportion of travellers would be inclined to patronize a travel company whose sustainability credentials are easily visible while a larger proportion would be inclined to go with a travel company whose sustainability credentials are easily visible and are endorsed by a credible third party assessor. A smaller proportion of travellers would not care. What should eco-tourism businesses do to attract such customers and influence their choice?

Be a Hero: Child Protection in Responsible Tourism by Patchareeboon Sakulpitakphon

The sexual exploitation of children should not be a part of the tourism reality, but it is. Although tourism is not the cause of this crime, offenders utilize the services and infrastructure of the tourism industry to carry out the crime. Thus, the tourism industry has a responsibility towards combating the sexual exploitation of children in travel and tourism. The Code is a tool that allows your company to implement child protection for responsible tourism.

Poverty Alleviation Through Sustainable Tourism Development: An Idea Or Reality? by Chananya Phataraprasit, Djinaldi Gosana and Hannah Won

A debate has arisen over the actual effects the tourism industry has within developing countries, and to what extent it helps the poor. The concept of tourism as a means of poverty alleviation has been around for nearly a decade, but there is a continuing debate over its effectiveness. Is tourism actually helping to give families and communities a better life or are here leakages that we do not see? Hear from various credible sources including the people on the ground and decide for yourself.

Bali CoBTA

Lisu Lodge 

Hannah Won – Orphanage Tourism 

Story Telling – How To Communicate Responsible Tourism (Without Sounding Boring!) by Adrianna Tan,  Jeremy Torr and Robin Boustead

Responsible Tourism as tool for branding and marketing is slowly dulling in the background with too many cases of greenwashing and/or boring technical achievements in sustainable practices. It’s time to sharpen your marketing edge and liven up the way you tell your story without compromising on credibility and the great business practices you have adopted. Find out how others have told their story and what travellers are really looking for.

Telling Travel Stories 3.0 by Adrianna Tan, Popaghandi.com

Sustainable Tourism: We All Need To Talk About it by Jeremy Torr, Storylocker

Great Himalaya Trail: A Case Study by Robin Boustead

The Dusun – from family retreat to nature resort

LOGO_Inspiring Stories from Destinations_2012-page-001It began as a simple retreat from the city for a family. In 1984, Helen put an ad in the Malay Mail to purchase a rural lot. Walking through a rubber smallholding in Negeri Sembilan, she looked out to the Mantin hills and fell in love…

All the rubber trees were removed and durian seedlings were planted by Helen, David and their five children. Lovingly developed over the years, the family always referred to their home as the Dusun, or the Orchard. When it became apparent that others love the Dusun as much as they did, Helen and David decided to turn it into a nature resort in 2009.

So being environmentally friendly and socially fair was never a business decision, it has always been the way in which they nurture our land and environment. It has always been the way we treat our neighbours and friends.

IMG_0238The Dusun honours sustainable development in farming and building, which has created a beautiful and healthy environment. Starting with two houses, the Dusun expanded one house at a time to only five houses. Each house is unique, studying the use of different locally found materials and building techniques. All houses are placed to catch the winds that come down the valley and up the little hill. Ventilation and placement of doors, windows, carvings and fans ensure comfort without the use of air-conditioning.

Committed to supporting the local community, the family has maintained a good relationship with their neighbours. The business only hires from nearby kampungs, and are careful about staff hours and pay fair wages that increase with increasing skill, responsibility or time with us. Employees can benefit from support with official matters like banking and EPF etc. There are also interest free loans available for motorbikes and computers.

Our staff are like our family – we trust them, respect them and do what we can to build their confidence.

IMG_0454Despite a small team, purchases impact the community too. As much as possible purchases are made in the local kampong; most of the food shopping is from the wet market and cleaning detergents are from other responsible businesses.

Activities are designed to raise awareness of Malaysia’s beautiful natural heritage and support local traditions, communities and NGOs. The jungle is guided by a neighbor who has been a hunter gatherer all his life, and all proceeds are kept by the guide. Guests can also enjoy a Bird Discovery Walk, whose proceeds go to Bird Conservation Council at Malaysian Nature Society. on the Dusun is surprising to some, but it is designed for those who enjoy fresh air, lush greenery, jungle views, lingering meals with loved ones, peaceful strolls and the wonderfully uncoordinated orchestra of the birds, crickets and frogs.