A working group of the Ministry of Environment’s Department of Biodiversity – in collaboration with the Mondulkiri provincial Department of Environment – is conducting research and assessment of the biodiversity status of a mountain in the Phnom Nam Lear Wildlife Sanctuary, in order to compile the documents necessary to list it as a UNESCO Geopark.

Keo Sopheak, director of the environment department, told The Post on April 11 that the biodiversity survey was carried out by a team from the ministry, with the financial support of the CAMPAS Project.

“The goal of this study is to promote the designation of Phnom Nam Lear as a UNESCO Geopark,” he said.

He said that Phnom Nam Lear is a rock formation, nearly 300m high and about 26ha in area. The mountain is in the centre of the forest in the sanctuary in Pu Tuet village of Pech Chreada district’s Bou Sra commune, 48km from Sen Monorom town and just 4km from the Vietnamese border.

“To conduct this study, we divide into teams and study the various species by group, such as large mammals, bats, birds, reptiles, insects, molluscs or plants,” the ministry said.

It said each group required different techniques, such as motion-sensor camera traps, straight lines, misting nets or harp-traps, recording sound, binocular surveys, or face-to-face interviews with the local population.

In this study, experts also collected animal and plant samples for storage and to identify each species. The study will continue until the end of April.

Preliminary results from the study found seven species of mammals, 14 species of bat, 97 species of bird, 38 species of reptile, 38 species of aquatic insects and 54 small tubers.

Among them are some species that have not been previously recorded, either in Cambodia or the rest of the world.

According to UNESCO, a Global Geological Park is a natural area with clear geographical and administrative boundaries, which contains world-class geological heritage, scientific and educational values, and aesthetics, among other values of biodiversity, archaeology or history.

As of 2021, there had been 169 UNESCO Global Geoparks in 44 countries.