THE government has agreed to work with the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and other organisations to protect six lowland grassland areas totalling 31,159 hectares in and around the Tonle Sap floodplain, the WCS country programme director, Mark Gately, said Wednesday.
The seasonally flooded areas – five in Kampong Thom province and one in Siem Reap province – comprise the Bengal Florican and Biodiversity Management Area, which provides refuge for threatened species.
Gately said the order outlining the terms of the agreement, signed last month, marked the strongest government-led effort to protect the species, which include birds such as the Sarus crane and the Bengal Florican.
Previously, the areas were partially protected by a provincial order, but they remained vulnerable to land-clearance and dam-building connected with legal and illegal large-scale rice farming, Gately said.
Under the new agreement, the area will be protected by law enforcement teams from the Forestry and Fisheries administrations, Gately said, adding that the teams would conduct regular patrols and inform provincial authorities of any illegal activity.