The Cardamom mountain range-an area of over 900,000 hectares-has been identified
as one of the world's most important biodiversity "hotspots" and thus in
urgent need of preservation, according to officials from US-based NGO Conservation
Three CI officials visited Cambodia this week and spent four hours flying over the
area to get a close look at the nearly uninhabited region.
"It's still intact. It's a gem of a rainforest and one of the most important
areas for biodiversity conservation on the planet," said Kirk Talbott, CI's
senior director for the Asia and Pacific Region.
"We believe it is the largest tract of untouched wilderness area in all of Cambodia,
Laos, Vietnam and Thailand."
CI defines "hotspots" as areas with a high degree of biodiversity and species
differentiation, which are under extreme threat of being destroyed. The government
has already granted four logging concessions in the region, although logging activity
has been minimal thus far.
Based on CI's recent survey, it plans to begin preparations to develop an early warning
system, using advanced technology, to monitor the state of the flora and fauna in
Long-term, CI will look at providing the resources to preserve the area as best as
When asked whether CI had the resources to basically lease the area for conservation
purposes, Cheri Sugal, manager of CI's Tropical Wilderness Protection wing said:
"We will explore that possibility.... It depends on the laws in place and costs."
CI is one of many groups interested in the Cardamoms. Flora & Fauna Intl has
surveyed parts of the region on the ground and sent another team there Jan 19 to
spend three months identifying wildlife species.