Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Tonle Sap wetland on the brink of a crisis



Tonle Sap wetland on the brink of a crisis

An aerial photo shows burned areas around the Tonle Sap lake in Siem Reap province last month.
An aerial photo shows burned areas around the Tonle Sap lake in Siem Reap province last month. Alessandro Marazzi Sassoon

Tonle Sap wetland on the brink of a crisis

In a statement last week, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature identified ongoing fires in flooded forests as a major threat to the Tonle Sap lake.

Described by the IUCN “as the heart of Cambodia’s freshwater fisheries, the largest freshwater lake in Southeast Asia and one of the most productive wetland areas in the world” as well as the source for over 75 per cent of the country’s protein intake, economic and population growth threaten the lake environment.

Record-low water levels, extreme heat and drought conditions exacerbated the burning.

“The clearing of flooded forest for rice has a direct impact on fish recruitment, as well as other wildlife”, it reads.

Beyond fires started accidentally, the group identifies rice-field conversion, hunting and the setting of fish nets as causes. Consequently, “the loss of flooded forest will lead to decreases in both fish and waterbirds.”

In May, the Post reported on the burning of more than a quarter of the Prek Toal wildlife sanctuary’s forests, and estimates by Conservation International indicate that nearly a third of the Tonle Sap UNESCO Biosphere Reserves’ 640,000 hectares of wetlands were consumed.

MOST VIEWED

  • Municipal hall releases map detailing colour coded Covid risks by commune

    Phnom Penh municipal governor Khuong Sreng released an official map detailing the red, yellow and dark yellow zones within the city under the new lockdown orders for Phnom Penh announced on April 26. The designation of red, dark yellow and yellow corresponds to areas with high,

  • Inter-provincial travel ban lifted; Phnom Penh and Takmao not exempted

    The government on April 25 decided to lift the inter-provincial travel ban and the closure of tourist attractions across the country, effectively immediately. The travel ban and closures of all resorts were imposed on April 6 and 17 respectively in a bid to curb the spread of Covid-19,

  • Phnom Penh unveils rules for post-lockdown transition

    The Phnom Penh Municipal Administration issued a set of detailed guidelines for the seven days to May 12 after the capital emerges from lockdown at the onset of May 6. In the 14-page document signed by municipal governor Khuong Sreng released on the evening of May 5, the

  • Phnom Penh, Takmao lockdown extended for another week

    The government late on April 26 announced an extension of lockdown in Phnom Penh and adjacent Takmao town in Kandal province for another seven days – or longer if residents do not comply with Covid-19 preventive measures and the community outbreak does not subside – until May 5. According

  • Gov't mulls extension of Phnom Penh, Takmao lockdown

    The Inter-ministerial National Commission for the Control and Enforcement of Lockdown held a video conference meeting on April 25 to review a draft document on the extension of lockdown in Phnom Penh and adjacent Kandal province’s Takmao town. The meeting was chaired by Minister of

  • Gov’t issues guidelines as lockdown nears end

    The government has issued a five-page set of instructions to be enforced when the three-week lockdown of Phnom Penh and adjacent Takmao town in Kandal province ends on May 6. According to an announcement signed by Prime Minister Hun Sen on May 4, the instructions cover a