The demarcation with boundary posts of Zone 3 along the shoreline of the Tonle Sap Lake is 65 per cent complete as of January 11, with Pursat being the first of the six lake-adjacent provinces to finish the surveying effort as part of a wide-ranging government operation to counter encroachment upon tens of thousands of hectares of the lake’s wetlands.
The Tonle Sap Lake Authority said the total surface area of Zone 3 is more than 640,000ha, which serves as a vital wildlife habitat and spawning grounds for many species of fish and thus needs to be protected in the interests of maintaining the lake’s biodiversity.
A summary report on the demarcation by boundary posts and banners of Zone 3 was issued by the Tonle Sap Authority and the departments of water resources and meteorology for each of the six provinces along with the local authorities around the lake.
A total of 525 posts out of a planned 802 have now been planted with 119 standing posts reinforced, 286 posts modified and 120 new posts erected.
“For the six provinces around the lake, Pursat has demarcated 76 boundary posts, which is 100 per cent of its goals. Banteay Meanchey has demarcated 44 out of 48 boundary posts planned, or 91.7 per cent of its goals,” the report said.
Four other provinces still have a longer way to go to complete the demarcation: Kampong Thom is at 73.5 per cent, Kampong Chhnang at 71.4 per cent, Battambang at 61.6 per cent and Siem Reap at 47.3 per cent.
The report from the Tonle Sap Authority also said the installation of banners to provide information on restricted areas was mostly complete with 51 banners out of the 63 planned now in place.
Mao Hak, deputy secretary-general of the Tonle Sap Authority, told The Post that Zone 3 covering 647,406ha around the lake is protected under sub-decree 19 and that there are 277 boundary posts yet to be planted because flood waters have not yet receded.
He said that demarcating the boundaries to protect the zone can be finished in the upcoming dry season.
“I believe that this work will be effective at managing the problem and now the communities living there are aware of the issue and I see that people are more actively involved,” he said.
On November 28 last year, Prime Minister Hun Sen issued a strict order to stop the destruction of the lake’s wetlands and prevent further encroachment.
According to a report from the Fisheries Administration, as of December 2021 more than 56,000ha of flooded forest land in Zone 3 around the Lake have now been reclaimed from more than 10,000 families.
Officials in the six provinces and relevant national authorities have begun reforesting the portions of Zone 3 that were cleared by encroachers for agriculture or construction using different various species of trees.