More than 50 government officials, civil society organisations and stakeholders held a meeting yesterday to discuss, share experiences and find solutions for the protection and conservation of Mekong River wetlands to be more effective and sustainable.
The meeting was held at the forum on “Mekong Wetland, Water Governance and Climate Change” in Stung Treng province.
Tek Vannara, executive director of the NGO Forum on Cambodia, said the Mekong River, wetland and Tonle Sap Lake are rich in biodiversity and aquatic animals which are an important source of protein for 80 percent of Cambodians who depend on the Mekong Basin.
He said the Mekong River is also an important waterway for fish migration to the Tonle Sap lake and other tributaries.
The meeting shared information about recent developments in wetland, climate change and water governance in the Mekong River which contributes to the protection and conservation of the wetlands.
“The results of this discussion will be compiled as a document for organising a development plan which will be submitted to the government to create a policy for implementation.
Vannara added that along with the effectiveness of the government’s biodiversity conservation and protection efforts and the involvement of all stakeholders, there are also some challenges and negative impact on wetlands caused by human activities, excessive fishing, deforestation and construction of large infrastructures on the Mekong River.
These actions pose a serious threat to the wetlands’ biodiversity, the ecosystem services of the Mekong River and its tributaries and also affects the Tonle Sap lake.
Khim Sok, Oxfam’s programme manager, said the Mekong River is very important as it provides water resource, fisheries and biodiversity resources that benefit more than 60 million people in the region.
He said due to many previous developments at the Mekong River Basin, especially the construction of hydropower dams to serve economic interests, the expansion of some urban areas and climate change have caused a significant impact on water flow and fisheries yields in the Mekong River Basin.
“Therefore, this forum is an opportunity for all stakeholders to discuss and seek recommendations to propose to the government to put in a policy in order to ensure sustainable development,” he said.
Stung Treng deputy provincial governor Duong Pov said the government in the past has made efforts to address the challenges and impacts of climate change and any development in order to protect and conserve the wetlands and sustainability of the Mekong River Basin, as it is in the national interests.
“I welcome and support [this discussion] and we will work together on these issues to serve the common interests of the people and the nation,” he said.
According to the NGO Forum on Cambodia, the Kingdom has designated five wetlands, including the Stung Treng Ramsar Site, Koh Kapik Ramsar Site in Koh Kong province, Boeung Chhmar, Prek Toal and Stung Sen Ramsar Sites located in the Tonle Sap lake ecosystem for conservation.
The areas cover over 80,000 hectares.