Peam Krasop Wildlife Sanctuary (PKWS) is located in the Koh Kong province. PKWS, mainly compounded by small alluvial islands, supports one of the most undisturbed mangrove forests
in Cambodia and therefore in the Gulf of Thailand. It is a spawning and nursery ground for many marine resources. The livelihood of approximately 10,000 habitats relies on fisheries and ecosystem services that the sanctuary provides.
“According to the projected climate change scenarios in the area, mean annual temperature will rise in dry season, while annual rainfall will be rising in wet season. Storms, wind speed and high waves are also likely to increase. Sea level rise is predicted to reach at least 60 cm by 2050. These scenarios will generate strong impacts over social and natural systems in Peam Krasop Wildlife Sanctuary. Therefore, IUCN and partner agencies initiated the Building Coastal Resilience project to enhance levels of climate change adaptive capacity on both people and ecosystems”, said Kimsreng Kong, Senior Programme Officer, IUCN Cambodia.
During 9-13 January 2012, BCR team in Cambodia conducted a Vulnerability and Capacity Assessment (VCA) workshop in Koh Kong. This aims to build up a team of VCA trainers and to gather, organize and analyze information related to the vulnerability and the adaptive capacity of communities towards future climate. Around 20 participants representing local authorities and communities such as Departments of Fisheries, Agriculture, Tourism, Environment, PKWS, Peam Krasop and Koh Kapik villages. The workshop combined two main parts including in-class session to train the VCA trainers and fieldwork.
The in-class session workshop highlighted climate change knowledge, particularly in regards with global and local climate scenarios and vulnerability and adaptation frameworks.
“I am here in this workshop because I think it’s important, and I need to bring this information back to the village and inform my people. We have to know what to be done in order to increase our capacity to cope with climate change”, said Mr. Seng Chhoung, 56, Koh Kapik II village chief of Koh Kapik Commune, Koh Kong Province. The fieldwork activity aimed to guide participants in the assessment of coastal communities' vulnerability and capacity for a long-term climate change adaptation. The VCA implementation was started in Peam Krasop Commune and expanded to two target villages in Koh Kapik Commune. The final site implemented was at Koh Sralao.
Some critical issues arose during fieldwork in PKWS. Abnormal high tides were noticed in the area. These events promoted the occurrence of floods and salt water intrusion in the area. It damaged crops and raised levels of concern among villagers who live closer to the shoreline. Fishing villages were facing major climatic hazards such as storms, increased rainfall and higher temperatures. The incidence of these hazards could alter the productivity of breeding grounds or habitats of marine resources such as mangrove and sea grass beds. Climate exposures can be enhanced by the effects of human-made hazards. PKWS inhabitants noticed decreasing local fisheries due to sand dredging activities operated by external enterprises. Monitoring and EIA studies are urgently needed to accurately address impacts of sand mining on the sanctuary's habitats and wildlife. Nevertheless it provides an interesting example of how climate and non-climate hazards interacts each other to accurately address threats affecting sociology-ecological resilience.
Mr. Kin Bukan, 32 years old from Department of Tourism, mentioned that with a better road access, there are more tourists coming to Koh Kong. “I join this activity because I see that environment, agriculture and tourism are related. If the environment is bad, tourism is bad too. So we need to protect our environment”, he added.
The findings will inform the next step of the BCR project in Cambodia, focusing on the participative identification and design of pilot strategies for climate change adaptation. Community and ecosystem based adaptation strategies seem to be in line with a former IUCN project in the area, the Livelihoods and Landscapes Strategy, which aimed to generate a PKWS zoning scheme, introducing different areas for biodiversity protection and sustainable use, boosting and managing species according with their conservation and economic values. The introduction of participatory management plan of the PKWS zoning arises as a tentative strategy to preserve levels of natural resilience in the area. This appears to be also the key for local community's climate change adaptation.
By Kimsreng Kong and Manuela