Tonle Sap Lake: Conserving Cambodia’s fish factory

Home to more than 3 million people, the Tonle Sap floodplain supports one of the world’s most productive freshwater fisheries.

Southeast Asia’s largest lake, Cambodia’s Tonle Sap more than quadruples in size during monsoon season, flushing the region with water and life.

Many residents of the Tonle Sap floodplain live in floating villages on the lake, and more than 90% directly rely on the seasonally flooded forests for fresh water, food, fuelwood and other essential resources.

The Tonle Sap and the inland waters system in Cambodia support some 500,000 tons of fish each year, and the flooded forests purify water and buffer communities from storms — an increasingly important benefit as climate change makes extreme weather more frequent.

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