The founders of the Cambodian luxury resort, Song Saa Private Island, have formed a new body designed to protect the country’s coast.
The Song Saa Foundation was officially launched on 21 September 2013 and will now work to protect the land and waters of southern Cambodia’s Koh Rong Archipelago, which is inhabited by sea turtles, whale sharks and seahorses.
Rory and Melita Hunter first came to the region in the mid-2000s and later built the first luxury resort in the archipelago – Song Saa Private Island. Since then, they have spearheaded Cambodia’s first ever marine reserve and implemented a village solid waste management system.
“Being the first to develop a resort in the Koh Rong Archipelago came with a tremendous sense of responsibility to ensure that whatever we did had a lasting, positive impact on the surrounding environment and gave opportunities and a future to the local community,” said Mr Hunter.
“We also wanted to lead by example and set a benchmark for others to follow by showing that property development, conservation and community engagement were not mutually exclusive concepts.”
Under the new foundation, the Hunters will continue to work to protect and improve the area’s natural and human environment.
Initiatives have already included the biggest medical outreach project ever undertaken in the Archipelago, which resulted in 1,000 people – or half the archipelago’s population – receiving medical attention over a five-day period. The Hunters are now in the process of converting a boat into a mobile education centre, with the first voyage expected in late 2014.