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INFOGRAPHIC: USAID Mekong ARCC's Ecosystems Service Valuation Country Case Studies

If a tree falls in the forest but no one hears it, did the tree really fall?

You’ve likely heard this well-pondered riddle already so how about this one:

If an entire forest is cleared to build a new highway, but no one knows the existing value of the forest to local communities, does losing the forest really cost local communities anything?

While the concept of “natural capital” is widely recognized, capturing its value can be challenging. How do you compare the loss of the forest and its myriad, though perhaps undocumented, benefits against the cold hard calculations of the economic returns from a new highway? One answer is through ecosystem service valuation, or ESV for short.

Chiang Rai's Hae Ko villagers were discussing impacts from changing climate and thier adaptation plan. (Cr. Josephine Green/IUCN)

Part One of this post introduced how the USAID Mekong ARCC project is using a participatory approach to engage villagers in rural, under-resourced areas of the Lower Mekong Basin to implement climate change adaptation measures in their communities. Part One presents the communities’ experiences with climate change and how we introduced scientific projections to them from the USAID Climate Study. Part Two is about how we merged these components in order to identify adaptation options.

Villagers in Ban Xong discuss about climate change in the context of Lao PDR in the poster. (Cr. Ienkate Saenghkaew/DAI)

How do you teach rural villagers about climate change when there is no word for “climate” in their language? This is one among many interesting and eye-opening experiences we encountered as we carried out the USAID Mekong ARCC adaptation planning approach across 20 communities in the Lower Mekong Basin (LMB). Read on to learn more about how we helped increase rural villagers’ awareness about climate change, their understanding of how it will affect them and what they can do to prepare their communities for its impacts.

In the dry season, villagers in Chey Commune and other rural areas of the LMB often face severe food and livelihood insecurity that affects both them and their livestock. (Cr. Shannon Dugan/DAI)

By my third trip to Chey Commune in Cambodia’s Kampong Thom Province, I am now accustomed to the nearly four hour drive. After the asphalt ends about an hour outside of the capital, Phnom Penh, we bump along on a mainly dirt and gravel road for what feels like an eternity. Outside my window, the landscape is flat. The lush rainforest that once stood here was removed long ago and now there are just a few classically tropical palm trees jutting up at random points in the distance.

Climate Change Education: AMDI staff discuss the meaning of CC impact cartoons with women at Xeo Quao village. (Cr. Pakprim Oranop-na-Ayuthaya/DAI)

“For the first time in fifteen years, my rice crop has completely failed,”
says Mr. Le Hoang An, a farmer from Thuan Hoa commune in Vietnam’s Mekong Delta.
“We didn’t get enough rain to wash the salt from the field, so the rice died when its roots hit the salty layer in the soil.”

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