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Forest communities in Sri Lanka and Cambodia benefit from the CBR+ initiative with tangible benefits for people and forests. Cambodia's Trapeaing Kbal Kmoch Community Forest awarded first prize for effective Community Forestry Management by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.

In 2015, the UN-REDD Programme, in partnership with the GEF Small Grants Programme (SGP) set up the Community Based REDD+ (CBR+) initiative to provide small grants of up to $50,000 to forest-dependent communities on the ground. The CBR+ initiative is a hands-on, bottom-up endeavor for genuine stakeholder engagement in REDD+ that also fosters synergies between local action and national policy for REDD+. Since 2015, over US $3.5 million have been disbursed through 95 community grants in 6 pilot countries: Cambodia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Nigeria, Panama, Paraguay and Sri Lanka.

Article and photos by Celina Yong, Stakeholder Engagement Specialist, UNDP

In July 2017, CBR+ and GEF SGP-funded project implementers in Sri Lanka gathered for a Knowledge Sharing Symposium in Colombo to showcase a series of lessons learnt from the field. The Centre for Environmental Justice, for instance, established a nationwide CSO forest monitoring system that has garnered support from the Forest Department, and is included in the country’s National REDD+ Investment Framework and Action Plan. The system consists of a web-based forest crime monitoring site ( and a hotline to report these crimes.


Hotline to report forest crimes.

A filtering mechanism was built-in to validate the reports prior to taking legal action. At least 51 forest vigilant groups in 18 districts provide on-site support. To date, the system has received 175 reports of forest crimes, out of which 32 were resolved in collaboration with communities and local governments.

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Raising awareness on the roles of forest vigilant groups.

With grants from CBR+, Ekabadda Praja Kantha Maha Sanwardana Sangamaya (EPKMSS) reduced cattle grazing inside Udawalawe National Park by conserving 20km of the west border of national park and the adjoining Bambaragala Mukalana Forest. EPKMSS also helped to establish five community-based organisations, an Environmental Task Force of 20 community leaders representing eight villages, a model agroforest plantation with fruit trees and a large well for continuous supply of water, and dairy farming units to supplement income of the villagers. For the latter, twenty high milk-yielding cattle and cattle sheds, complemented by home pasture lands with hybrid grass containing high levels of nutrients were introduced. Supporting this was veterinary training to 35 beneficiaries to identify common diseases and provide basic health care to the cattle. Thus, of 340 cattle previously released into the national park, 180 are now kept within home premises, while the dairy farm has added an average of 80% to an average household income. Beneficiaries of the high milk-yielding cattle also agreed to donate first born calves to other beneficiaries.

constructed Animal husbandary units

Constructing animal husbandry units

distribution of plants

Another Sri Lankan CBR+ grantee, Women’s Development Foundation, collaborated with the Indigenous People or Vedda community to promote sustainable utilization of forest resources and to document their traditional knowledge values and practices, now accessible at In addition to this website, 3525 saplings were planted in 125 home gardens and in 50 acres of abandoned Chena lands to increase forest cover, with over 60% survival rate.


Distributing plants to the Chief of Vedda, Mr Wanniya Uruwarige




















In Cambodia, the Democracy Resource Center for National Development promoted the livelihood of indigenous peoples and sustainable forest conservation in Serey Mongkol and Chey Uddom Communes by establishing a solar powered battery charging station and a management guideline, as well as a savings group.

Cambodia Solar

Explaining the management guidelines for the solar-powered battery charging station

The guideline, recognised by the Chief of Chey Uddom Commune Council, states how the proceeds from the station will be used to promote the well-being of the communities. Proceeds are also used to fund patrolling of community protected areas. Recently, the Ministry of Environment authorized the communities to protect an additional 2,982 ha of protected areas.

Another CBR+ grantee, Action for Development, worked with five villages in Salavisey Commune in Prasat Balaing District, Kampong Thom Province, to improve management of their community forestry (CF). This involved capacity building in book keeping, business plan development and marketing. In March 2017, the Trapeaing Kbal Kmoch Community Forest was awarded first prize for effective Community Forestry management during the National Farmer Conference organized by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF).

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Mr Mean Mom, Chief of Trapeang Kbal Kmoach Community Forestry, receiving the award from the Prime Minister of Cambodia, Samdech Akeak Moha Sena Padey Techno Hun Sen.

The prize consists of a handheld tractor, cash reward and a certificate of appreciation from MAFF. The recognition provided a boost to the community in their efforts to manage their forests. Upon receiving the award, Mr Mean Mom, the chief of this CF said, “I would like to share with all CFs nationwide that all of you also have the opportunity [to win this award] when you try to effectively manage your respective CF and engage with relevant stakeholders particularly committee members, CF members, local authorities, competent agencies, and related organisations”.

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Mr Mean Mom, Chief of Trapeang Kbal Kmoach Community Forestry, Winner of the “National Effective Community Forestry Management” organized by MAFF, March 2017