Koh Kong’s Rainbow Lodge Plans on Paying It Forward

KOH KONG – The dullness of a rainy day accentuates the lush shades of green rainforest of the Cardamom Mountains in Koh Kong province. Float down the Tatai River and you see bobbing turquoise, red and yellow canoes tied up along the banks—in their vivid colors they resemble toy boats. A few neighbors, boarding their own canoes or lounging in kiosks, will likely wave, welcoming you to the neighborhood. … Despite the push to promote the natural beauty of the province, land grabs, logging, poaching and sand dredging have encroached on Koh Kong and the Tatai River. But the growing environmental awareness among businesses and residents in the area has been able to slow down the depletion of resources by promoting Koh Kong as a profitable and popular ecotourism destination. … A 108-MW hydropower dam, to be built by China’s Guodian Cor­poration, would flood thousands of hectares of land including forestland in the Cardamom Protected Forest. More than 1,500 people would have to relocate, and environmentalists have said that rare animal and plant species in the forests would be affected. … Martin Leighfield, community-based ecotourism project manager of Wildlife Alliance, says ecotourism in the region is growing year by year. … On Monday, the World Bank applauded Cambodia’s tourism sector, which it says attracts visitors from Eastern Europe, East Asia and the Pacific regions. Ms. Woodward said more and more guests staying at Rainbow Lodge are from Cambodia and the region.

Lindsey Peterson and Khuon Narim