The Ministry of Environment inaugurated the Prek Toal Ramsar-site Core Area Management Centre building in Battambang province on February 18, with German ambassador Christian Berger in attendance.

The ministry confirmed on February 19 that the building had been renovated with the support of the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) through Germany’s KFW Development Bank (KfW) under the Lower Mekong Basin Management and Conservation Project – implemented by the ministry’s General Department for Nature Conservation.

In addition to attending the inauguration, Berger also visited Southeast Asia’s largest waterbird sanctuary, the Prek Toal Ramsar-site.

He appreciates the conservation work in the area, which he has visited five times.

“I hope that the biodiversity and natural resources of the Prek Toal Ramsar-site, especially the number of waterbirds, will continue to increase through the efforts of the ministry and sub-national authorities,” he said in a Facebook post.

The Prek Toal Ramsar-site of the Tonle Sap Lake Biosphere Reserve – in Ek Phnom district’s Koh Chivaing commune of Battambang province – is full of flooded forest, which is not only a spawning ground for fish but also a breeding ground for many species of birds.

German ambassador Christian Berger (centre left) attends the inauguration of the Prek Toal Ramsar-site Core Area Management Centre building in Battambang province on Friday. ENVIRONMENT MINISTRY

The area is one of the most biodiversity-rich in the region, and provides a habitat for more than 800 species of plants and animals. The area was designated a Ramsar site in December 2015, and that designation has benefited the conservation of rare birds and plants and boosted community benefits due to an increase in tourism.

Ministry spokesman Neth Pheaktra told The Post on February 20 that the building had been under construction for a long time as it had previously fallen into disrepair. The ministry initiated the renovation through the BMZ-funded project.

He said the work was completed by the end of 2021. The 430sqm structure has a large meeting room and six living spaces. Work included replacing the roof, retiling, repainting and total replacement of the plumbing system

“The work was carried out by a local repair service company, under the supervision of expert engineers,” he added.

The project is designed to support the management of the Lower Mekong Basin wetlands, especially the Ramar Prek Toal of Cambodia and the Beung Kiat Ngong Ramsar site of Laos.

The five-year project – implemented by the environment ministry’s general department and the Fisheries Administration under the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries – is scheduled to run from 2018 to 2022 and will protect and conserve natural resources and improve the livelihoods of local communities.