Conservationists and local communities in Takeo province have pledged to ramp up their efforts to protect rare cranes and reduce plastic use around the Boeung Prek Lapouv Protected Landscape.

Their renewed commitment coincides with recent celebrations of Crane Day and World Wetlands Day, held from February 23-25.

The annual programme, coordinated by conservation NGO NatureLife Cambodia and local schools, aims to raise awareness about bird conservation, particularly cranes, and the importance of preserving the Boeung Prek Lapouv area.

This year’s activities involved Banteay Thleay, Kdol Chrum and Sangkum Meanchey primary schools, all located near the protected landscape, according to a social media post by the Ministry of Environment. This year saw 300 participants, including local officials, educators and students from nearby villages.

The event spotlighted the importance of wetlands and cranes, and also addressed plastic waste management. Each of the participants pledged to conserve cranes, reduce plastic use and participate in the sustainable use of wetlands.

Ministry spokesperson Khvay Atiya said on February 26 that the annual event is important, noting the area’s remarkable biodiversity. With over 100 species of birds thriving in the region, such collaboration is paramount for effective conservation efforts.

“The presence of endangered cranes further underscores the importance of establishing the Boeung Prek Lapouv Protected Landscape, aligning with a government sub-decree. Encompassing 8,305ha in the province’s Borei Cholsar and Koh Andet districts, this initiative reflects the administration’s commitment to protecting and conserving natural resources. Additionally, it aims to foster community engagement to combat all forms of environmental degradation and illegal activities,” he said.

He also stressed the importance of reducing plastic bag usage, aligning with the ministry’s Circular Strategy on Environment on achieving a “clean, green and sustainable” future.

Atiya said the ministry encourages the active participation of all stakeholders, particularly local communities, in conservation efforts. This collaborative approach aims to prevent pollution and the improper disposal of plastic, ultimately protecting the water resources, birdlife and broader environment.

He explained that the protected area in Takeo province serves as a crucial feeding ground for cranes during their non-breeding season from November to February. Therefore, local involvement in safeguarding endangered species and preventing related crimes is an essential factor for continued success.