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Cambodia`s Wetlands Need Protection

the most comprehensive review of bird conservation priorities in Cambodia to date, was launched today…

Phnom Penh, Cambodia, 27th March 2003 - Key Sites for Conservation in Cambodia, the most comprehensive review of bird conservation priorities in Cambodia to date, was launched today at a reception held in Phnom Penh. The directory lists all sites internationally recognised as the most critically important places for bird and biodiversity conservation, termed Important Bird Areas (IBAs). 40 IBAs were identified in Cambodia, of which 65% are included within the national network of conservation areas. However the directory also highlights that, critically, two of the most important and threatened ecosystems in Cambodia; the inundated grasslands of the Tonle Sap and Mekong floodplain and the channel of Mekong River and tributaries north of Kratie remain significantly unprotected.Colin Poole, Country Director of the Wildlife Conservation Society Cambodia Program commented natural flooded grasslands such as those of the Tonle Sap and lower Cambodian Mekong have all but disappeared in neighbouring countries, here in Cambodia they are crucial not only to the world`s largest remaining populations of several globally threatened bird species, but also for their role in fish production and flood control. I hope the directory is an important first step in focussing attention on these neglected areas and proposing some long term sustainable management options.The directory identifies hunting as a key threat to birds at 90% of all IBAs, this is particularly serious for birds such as storks, ibises and Green Peafowl. However, there are some encouraging signs. For example, at Prek Toal on the Tonle Sap Great Lake where local people, many of them former bird collectors and hunters have come together with the support of NGOs and the Government to establish a network of conservation rangers to protect the large waterbird colonies and ensure the long-term sustainability of their area, both for themselves and the wildlife found there. Speaking at the launch, Jonathan Eames, Programme Manager of BirdLife International in Indochina said This publication is a great example of collaboration between multiple Government agencies and NGOs. It describes a network of Important Bird Areas, the protection of which would go a long way towards the conservation of biodiversity and the wider environment in Cambodia. It identifies clear priorities for conservation action, and encourages government agencies, donors and NGOs to address them. The information is also presented in such a way that it will also be of interest to birdwatchers, and we hope it will thereby support the development of ecotourism.
For more details contact: Colin Poole, WCS, cpoole@wcs.org Tel. 855 (0) 12 807455 or Jonathan Eames, BirdLife International, eames.birdlife@netnam.org.vn Tel. 007 84 913239649

4th July 2014