The degradation of Cambodian wetlands and the potential cost to the country if they are not protected was the topic of a workshop last week in Phnom Penh.
Cambodia is blessed with coveted natural resources, Secretary of State Lim Sokun told about 200 government officials and students in Phnom Penh’s Chroy Changvar park on Thursday.
And yet, Cambodia has forgotten the wetlands’ value for transportation, for agriculture in both dry and rainy seasons, and for the survival of many rare species of birds and other animals for which wetlands are home, Lim Sokun said.
“Cambodia’s wetlands have been suffering and continue to suffer from the activities of ordinary and powerful people, such as clear-cutting, land seizures and the filling-in of lakes,” he said.
Wetlands cover 38 percent of Cambodia’s territory, according to government officials.
Phnom Penh Deputy Governor Prince Sisowath Pheanuroth said the destruction of natural resources includes filling in lakes, dumping waste into rivers and the increasing discharge of solid and liquid waste.
Already, the capital produces 930 tons of waste each day, and this will increase as the population grows to two million people, he said.
“Wetlands provide drinking water, reduce air temperatures and provide fresh air for animals and humans…. We need to care for our wetlands,” Koy Sokharith, undersecretary of state at the Ministry of Water Resources and Meteorology, told participants at the open-air meeting.
On Wednesday, the third annual Wetland Day meeting will be held in Stung Treng province.