The conservation organization WWF unveiled yesterday the first field guide of rattan species in Cambodia as part of ongoing efforts to support the development of sustainable and environmentally friendly rattan production that meets international export requirements.
Michelle Owen, manager of WWF’s conservation program, said the guidebook, the first taxonomic study in Cambodia to document the species of vines used for furniture, construction materials and food, was an important reference for improving rattan production—a valuable cottage industry across the country.
“In order to develop a strong and sustainable rattan industry it is necessary to understand the rattan source, how many species there are, how and where it grows and how much can be removed without depleting the resource,” she said..
Men Phymean, chief of wildlife and biodiversity at the Agriculture Ministry, said the guide would help improve management and processing of rattan.
“According to the study, rattan in Cambodia and in other countries is becoming less and less abundant because of rattan collection without the right techniques,” Mr Phymean said, adding, “I believe this book is very important for the trainers to help the local community manage the natural resource of rattan.”
Khou Eang Hourt, botanist and author of the guide, said he had identified 20 species of rattan across 13 provinces during two years of research, explaining the resulting book included Khmer and scientific names of the rattan, description of their physical characteristics, photos and maps of distribution for field identification and production use of the species.
“While we are all familiar with rattan as finished products like chairs and tables, very few people know what these plants look like in the forest or how many species there are in Cambodia,” he said. Mr Eang Hourt added none of the identified species were so far under threat of extinction because of rattan production.
WWF has worked with rattan producers and suppliers in the capital and 20 villages in five provinces since 2006 by setting up a rattan association, supporting local rattan harvesting and improving and cleaning up processing to make rattan products suitable for export markets such as the European Union.
Asnarith Tep, a WWF spokesman, said by telephone that the guide had been distributed among officials, rattan traders and village production groups involved in WWF’s rattan production project.
“All of the rattan stakeholders now have a book,” he said.
(Additional reporting by Chhorn Chansy)