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Rattan preservation focus of cataloguing

As part of its ongoing efforts to protect the rattan plant, the conservation group WWF yesterday launched a comprehensive catalogue of the local species.

In Systematic, Ecology and Management of Rattans in Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam, the culmination of eight years of research, the WWF and New York Botanical Garden emphasise sustainable production and trade management are necessary for the preservation of the species.

The rattan tree, used mostly for distinctive furniture and baskets, earns Cambodia an estimated $1.5 million annually. But the 65 species known to exist in the Kingdom – including two that grow nowhere else – are threatened by over-harvesting and deforestation.

“Over-harvesting, poor environmental management and a lack of international quality standards is depleting the nation’s rattan stocks at an unsustainable rate,” Chhith Sam Ath, WWF country director, said at the book’s launch yesterday.

Sam Ath added that preserving the rattan species exclusive to Cambodian forests – the Callamus mellitus and Calamus kampucheaensis – is “critical to our country’s biodiversity and the future of our rattan industry”.

Khou Eng Huort, a senior plant specialist, said that 70 per cent of forest land in Cambodia grows rattan plants.

But Charles Peters, one of the book’s authors, said that without prevention measures instituted soon, the resource will drastically shrink.

Since 2006, the WWF and its local NGO partners have been developing sustainable rattan production and commercialisation strategies that are detailed in the book, which will soon be translated into Khmer, Vietnamese and Lao.

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