The Boeung Prek Lapouv Protected Landscape Area in Takeo province – renowned as a habitat for many species of rare water and migratory birds – is set to be designated a Ramsar site, or a wetland of international importance.
Ministry of Environment spokesman Neth Pheaktra said this is because the area is a habitat for many rare bird species and provides for the livelihoods of local communities.
He added that before the designation is official, the wetlands needed further research on biodiversity, ecology and potential for the area. The information is needed to garner the support of relevant parties at the sub-national and national levels.
“Once the Boeung Prek Lapouv Protected Landscape Area is included as a Ramsar site, Cambodia will have six Ramsar sites. These are the Stung Treng, the Koh Kapi, the Boeung Chhmar, the Prek Toal and Stung Sen Ramsar sites,” he continued.
He said this protected area is a habitat for a variety of water and migratory bird species, especially flamingos. Environmental rangers had recently recorded the presence of yellow-breasted buntings that migrated between Siberia and Southeast Asia via the East Asian-Australasian Flyway.
“The Boeung Prek Lapouv Protected Landscape Area also has the presence of greater adjutants, which are an endangered species, and water birds such as the black-headed ibis, glossy ibis and painted stork. They forage for food in this area,” he said.
He said the area provided many benefits for people such as water resources, food and medicine. The area absorbed flooding, provided shelter from storms, protection from droughts, and regulated and purified water.
“These highlighted the international importance of this landscape area. So, the environment ministry has been preparing to designate this area as the Ramsar site that will give this wetland area international value,” Pheaktra said.
He said the designation showed that the area was of international importance and was internationally recognised by the Ramsar Convention with the Ramsar secretariat in Switzerland.
The area also raises public awareness of the importance of wetland areas. The increased participation of people, funds for conservation and providing opportunities for research and ecotourism will all support conservation in the area.
Srey Sunleang, deputy head of the ministry’s General Department of Nature Protection and Conservation Administration, said Cambodia approved the Ramsar Convention on December 24, 1996, and became a full member on October 23, 1999.
“The Ramsar Convention works on three pillars – wise use of wetland areas, international demarcation and establishment of wetland areas, and international cooperation,” he said.
Sunleang added that currently, 2,424 wetland areas were included as Ramsar sites in the world covering 25 million hectares. Of that number, Cambodia has five wetland areas covering 42,257ha.