Stung Sen Recognised as Fifth Ramsar Site in Cambodia

AKP Phnom Penh, November 07, 2018 —

Stung Sen, a unique wetland in Tonle Sap Great Lake, was nationally and internationally recognised as the fifth Ramsar Site in Cambodia.

Covering 9,293 hectares, Stung Sen is the tallest and pristine seasonally flooded freshwater swamp forest of the Tonle Sap Great Lake. It has been designated as a Wetland of International Importance (also known as a “Ramsar Site”, by the Royal Government of Cambodia  under the leadership of Prime Minister Samdech Akka Moha Sena Padei Techo Hun Sen early this month.

Stung Sen Ramsar Site is located along the south-eastern edge of the Tonle Sap Great Lake, and is a typical representative of inland forest wetland in the Tonle Sap Freshwater Swamp Forests biogeographic region. The site is characterised by the old growth natural seasonally flooded forest, which is widely recognised as the most species-rich ecosystem type in the Tonle Sap landscape and is a threatened forest assemblage in Southeast Asia. Additionally, low-stature shrub land, and surrounding natural grasslands are crucial as foraging area and refuge for many water-birds, mammals, fishes, and others. The site also plays an important role in flood mitigation during the rainy season, water regulation, groundwater recharge to surrounding areas, water purification through aquatic plant and folded forests, and water provision for living and agriculture. Because of these values and importance, Stung Sen has received recognition as a Ramsar Site.

“It is delighted to see the Ramsar designation of Stung Sen wetland as a result of co-operative and continuous efforts among various stakeholders,” said Mr. Masaru Horikami, Director of the Wildlite Division, Ministry of the Environment of Japan. “We have supported this designation process and capacity building of the site managers since 2016 to ensure that the ecosystem services of Stung Sen will be sustainable managed for the benefit of both biodiversity and local livelihood.”

“We congratulate the Royal Government of Cambodia for putting forward Stung Sen as a new Ramsar Site,” said Mr. Suh Seung Oh, Executive Director of Ramsar Regional Centre East Asia.

“Stung Sen is significantly important in the region as habitats for a number of globally threatened species, the migratory pathway and feeding ground for water birds, and important habitat for mammals. The Ramsar Convention Secretariat is looking forward to working with the Royal Government of Cambodia to ensure sustainable wetland management and to promote the wise use of wetlands for benefits for local people and the environment. Furthermore, the Ramsar Convention Secretariat will continue to support the Government to designate more Ramsar Sites, as important wetlands like Stung Seng, in the future,” said Ms. Reiko Iitsuka, Senior Regional Advisor for Asia/Oceania of the Ramsar Secretariat.

Currently, 30 percent of Cambodia is covered by wetlands and the majority of them have been identified as globally important, owing to the ecosystem services that they provide and populations of threatened species that they support.

Beside Stung Sen, the other four Ramsar Sites in Cambodia are Boeung Chhmar and Associated River System and Floodplain, Koh Kapik and Associated Islets, Middle Stretches of Mekong River North of Stung Treng, and Prek Toal Ramsar Site.

Ministry of Environment of the Royal government of Cambodia and BirdLife International have been working together towards designating more wetlands as Ramsar Sites in Cambodia since 2006. For wetland conservation, it is crucial to designate biodiversity-rich areas as a Ramsar Site while allowing their “wise use” by various stakeholders with appropriate wetland management.

“To support the designation process, biodiversity survey and consultation meetings have been done since 2016,” said Mr. Bou Vorsak, Programme Manager of BirdLife International Cambodia Programme. “The boundary of Stung Sen Ramsar Site had been drawn with endorsement from local communities and local authorities ranging from commune to provincial level.”

“Receiving recognition as internationally important wetland will bring significant benefit to this site including more protection support from international, national and local communities. I also expect contribution to conservation of critical biodiversity and endangered species through sustainable use of this wetland, including eco-tourism,” said Dr. Tsubasa Iwabuchi, Senior Programme Officier, BirdLife International Tokyo, which supported the designation process with Ministry of the Environment of Japan.

“Recognising Stung Sen as a Ramsar Site not only draws attention to the international importance of tis wetland, but it will be a bridge for Cambodia to nominate more wetlands as Ramsar Sites in the future,” said H.E Say Samal, Minister of Environment.

Each Contracting Part to the Ramsar Convention designates at least one wetland for inclusion in the List of Wetlands of International Importance, and these sites are selected by the Party based on the site’s international significance in terms of their vital ecological function, their biological diversity value, and their economic, cultural and recreational value. Worldwide, there are 2,331 Ramsar Sites, making this the largest network of wetland managed for conservation.

(Photo: Porchhay Taing / BirdLife Cambodia)

By Khan Sophirom