The Ministry of Environment held World Wetlands Day on February 2 in Pursat province – which is rich in wetlands – to celebrate the importance of ecosystems and protect biodiversity in local communities.

The event was organised at Tea Chamrat High School in Pursat town under the theme “Conservation of wetlands for humans and nature.”

The ministry urged the public to celebrate the event on social media by posting photographs of beautiful wetlands, biodiversity, local community living or ecotourism activities in the wetlands.

World Wetlands Day is held annually on February 2 to celebrate the ratification of the Convention on Wetlands (Ramsar Convention) which dates back to 1971. Cambodia is one of the 171 signatories in the world that has the obligation to manage, conserve and protect wetlands of international importance.

Ministry spokesman Neth Pheaktra told The Post that for this year, the ministry had chosen Pursat to celebrate it because of the number of wetlands in the province.

“The idea is to share the important principles of biodiversity with the people in the province. Pursat is also a floodplain, and is the perfect example of a place that is ecologically important as well as biodiverse,” he said.

“We encourage them to join conservation efforts and protect the land. We also prevent them from using agricultural pesticides or strong chemical fertilisers that may impact biodiversity, as sometimes they poison animals that feed on wetlands,” he added.

He said the event also shared its message to the other parts of Cambodia with wetlands, and hoped that they would participate in the protection and conservation of biodiversity, as well as animal sanctuaries. Many wetlands are rich in animal feed, such as the Boeung Prek Lapouv Protected Landscape Area, where cranes feed and many animals spawn.

He said people’s daily lives are closely entwined with wetlands as they provide free ecosystem services such as clean water for daily use and irrigation to reduce flooding and drought, carbon elimination and climate regulation. They were also a food source and great for natural recreation.

US ambassador to Cambodia Patrick Murphy also celebrated World Wetlands Day.

“I am reminded how crucial wetlands are to the Kingdom. These beautiful systems store and clean water, nourish us, provide a home to wildlife, and keep us safe from floods & storms. Protecting wetlands is vital for Cambodia’s future,” he tweeted on February 2.

Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS Cambodia) country director Ken Serey Rotha said earlier that the world has lost one-third of its wetlands since 1970, leaving more than one billion people lacking precious water and food.

He added that bird conservation has so far been successful, with their number increasing steadily. However, he expressed concern about bird sanctuaries because population growth in some areas had led people to clear forests, build houses and grow crops using chemicals.

The environment ministry said Cambodia has five Ramsar wetland sites in four provinces: Koh Kapi in Koh Kong; Prek Toal in Battambang; Stung Sen and Tonle Chhmar in Kampong Thom; and Stung Treng Ramsar in Stung Treng.