Cambodia is still recognised as a global leader in biodiversity with 6,149 species living in Cambodia on record to date, Ministry of Environment spokesman Neth Pheaktra said on November 19.

“The number of species may even increase over time because new examples of Cambodia’s incredible degree of biodiversity may be discovered,” he said on his Facebook page.

He added that Cambodia has 162 species of mammals, 601 species of birds, 173 species of reptiles, 3,113 species of small and large plants, 1,357 species of fish, 671 species of vertebrates, and 72 species of amphibians, including 24 kinds of hard corals, 14 kinds of soft corals and 10 kinds of seagrass – all within the borders of a relatively small country.

He continued that most people are used to experiencing Cambodia’s wildlife through foreign documentaries rather than in-person and he noted that at the bottom of the sea within Cambodia’s territorial waters the area is also rich in biodiversity.

According to the National Council for Sustainable Development, biodiversity helps farmers in the production of crops. People have taken advantage of Cambodia’s biodiversity by hunting or foraging for species to use for food, medicine and other products.

Biodiverse ecosystems play a role in purifying water, producing oxygen, preventing floods and natural disasters and assisting plant pollination. Biodiversity can be viewed as a store of nature’s vast knowledge and full of mysteries for humanity, they said.

“Poor countries as well as developed countries rely heavily on natural resources. They have used their territory’s biodiversity for national economic development and to make large contributions to their gross domestic product (GDP),” the National Council for Sustainable Development said.