Almost 650,000 hectares of ecologically-rich flooded forest surrounding the Tonle Sap lake has been protected by a sub-decree signed by Prime Minister Hun Sen on Monday.
The 647,406 hectare area spans sections of Kampong Chhnang, Pursat, Battambang, Banteay Meanchey, Siem Reap and Kampong Thom provinces.
The sub-decree orders the governors of each of the six provinces as well as the Tonle Sap authority and relevant ministries to preserve the area.
“Each provincial governor has a duty to protect their own [seasonally] flooded forest area and [permanently] flooded forest,” the sub-decree read, adding that failure to take responsibility would result in government action.
Pursat provincial governor Khoy Sokha said yesterday the sub-decree was an important step to protect against the exploitation of fish stocks in the Tonle Sap.
“It is very necessary to demarcate flooded forest and protect it ... I’ve already had to order local authorities and watchdogs to protect [flooded forests] against offences in my area,” he said.
The flooded forests that surround the Tonle Sap lake are a crucial source of nutrients sustaining its enormous populations of fish.
Minh Bunly, a coordinator of Fishing Action Collision Team , which works to preserve the biodiversity of the Tonle Sap lake, said the sub-decree would benefit both the environment and the people who depended on it, provided it was enforced.
“When there is more fish and forest, it improves human living standards,” she said.