The ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity (ACB) called for the conservation and restoration of wetlands across the ASEAN member nations and beyond, as the Cambodian Ministry of Environment urged authorities to curb illegal activities affecting wetlands.
To mark World Wetlands Day on February 2, ACB executive director Theresa Mundita Lim said ACB joins the celebration and the resounding call for the protection of wetlands around the world.
This year’s theme, “Wetlands Action for People and Nature”, underlines the importance of wetlands in sustaining the ASEAN people’s health and livelihoods, she said in a press statement.
She noted that more than one billion people in the world depend on wetlands for valuable economic activities such as irrigated rice farming, water provision, energy sourcing and tourism. Wetlands also play a significant factor in solutions to climate change.
She said healthy peat wetlands possess a unique carbon storage function, with twice the capacity of the world’s forests to sequester carbon and prevent it from escaping into the atmosphere. Degraded wetlands emit copious amounts of carbon that contribute to greenhouse gas emissions when the peat they contain is destroyed.
“With the many benefits wetlands provide, whole-of-society actions become all the more urgent. Ensuring healthy and well-managed wetlands requires the engagement of different stakeholders. This timely celebration of World Wetlands Day is a reminder of the urgent collective action needed to curb wetlands degradation and biodiversity loss,” she added.
Environment ministry spokesman Neth Pheaktra told The Post that a large number of wetlands all over the world, including in Cambodia, were being lost and many others were under threat due to land use issues, diversion of water flows, construction of housing agricultural encroachment, forest fires and other illegal activities such as logging or hunting.
He said the Ang Trapeang Thmor Wildlife Sanctuary in Banteay Meanchey province’s Poy Char commune has suffered greatly from unauthorised use of the land there and from encroachment on state public land for agriculture and the poaching of deer and other wildlife by “a handful of crooks” who were negatively affecting efforts for the protection and conservation of wetlands.
“I request the authorities at all levels to focus more on preventing and protecting these wetlands areas from being destroyed by illegal activities so that we don’t lose more of our natural resources at Ang Trapeang Thmor,” Pheaktra said.
“I would also like to applaud our improvements and successes in protecting and conserving many other wetlands in the Kingdom through the government’s continued efforts to solve Cambodia’s environmental degradation issues as we work to come up with permanent and sustainable means to protect our precious natural heritage and environment. I believe we can do that and we will do that,” he said.