Monday, July 9, 2007

Give Them Grants and They Will Conserve

The locals of Baan Mae Korn, a small community in Northern Thailand, attempt to sustain a traditional, untouched lifestyle. However, established farming practices are damaging the local ecosystem. This degradation is caused mainly by the unsustainable growth of cash crops that cause erosion and pollute surrounding water sources.

This is just the kind of project the Global Environmental Facility (GEF) of the UNDP frequently takes on to simultaneously help communities and protect the environment.

GEF’s Small Grants Programme has provided funds to the inhabitants of Baan Mae Korn to install biogas collectors (a renewable source of energy) in their homes. Biogas is produced from pig manure and can be used instead of wood for cooking. This means less deforestation and more time for locals to concentrate on sustainable farming practices.

GEF also encourages local farmers to move away from cash crops such as corn in order to grow organic produce, which increasingly fetches great prices at market.

For more details, see this UNDP Press Release.