The government has designated the 9,293 hectare Stung Sen, a unique wetland along the Tonle Sap, as Cambodia’s fifth Ramsar Site recognised by the Secretariat of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands through a sub-decree signed by Prime Minister Hun Sen on Friday.
The site is located along the south-eastern edge of the lake. Its low-stature shrub land and surrounding natural grasslands are crucial as a foraging area and refuge for many water birds, mammals and fish. The site also plays an important role in flood mitigation during the rainy season.
Environment Minister Say Samal on Tuesday said that recognising Stung Sen as a Ramsar Site not only draws attention to the international importance of the wetland but will also bridge the way for Cambodia to nominate more wetlands as Ramsar Sites in the future.
A joint statement by Birdlife International, the Environment Ministry and the Ramsar Regional Centre East Asia on Tuesday stated that 30 percent of Cambodia is covered by wetlands, the majority of which have been identified as globally important owing to the ecosystem services that they provide and populations of threatened species that they support.
It noted that on October 23, 1999, Cambodia became a Contracting Party to the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands and four Ramsar Sites were designated.
The Environment Ministry and Birdlife International have been working together toward designating more wetlands as Ramsar Sites in Cambodia since 2006.
Bou Vorsak, Birdlife International program manager in Cambodia, said on Tuesday that to support the designation process, a biodiversity survey and consultation meetings were carried out.
“The boundary of the Stung Sen Ramsar Site was drawn with endorsement from local communities and local authorities, ranging from commune to the provincial level,” he said.
Mr Hun Sen signed the sub-decree to support the conservation and protection of wetland sites.
“The Environment Ministry has to be responsible for managing, protecting and preserving the Stung Sen Ramsar Site by cooperating with relevant ministries, institutes and sub-national administrations in order to ensure environmental protection, biodiversity and sustainability,” Mr Hun Sen said.