On 22 May, celebrations for the International Day for Biological Diversity took place with a thousand participants in attendance in Koh Kong Province, Cambodia. ‘Island Biodiversity’–the theme for 2014—was highlighted. The event aimed to demonstrate the Cambodian Government’s strong commitment to natural resource management and the Ministry of Environment’s efforts as the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (UN CBD) focal point.
The International Day for Biological Diversity celebrations aimed to enhance the public’s understanding of the values of biodiversity; to increase the participation of all stakeholders in island biodiversity conservation for creating sustainable livelihoods; and to encourage local communities and authorities in Peam Krasop Wildlife Sanctuary and Koh Kapik Island to continue participating in ecosystem restoration activities. A wide range of stakeholders attended the event; from high-level government officials and provincial authorities to local and international organizations as well as students and teachers.
H.E. Bun Leuk, the Provincial Governor of Koh Kong said, “Koh Kong Province is rich in natural resources and possesses many islands with beautiful landscapes. It is also of high value in terms of biodiversity, protected landscapes, economic uses, tourism, culture, and education. The mangrove forest plays a significant role in protecting against the negative impacts of climate change.”
During the celebrations, high-level government representatives provided their perspectives on the importance of biodiversity in Cambodia. H.E. Chay Samith, the Delegate in charge of the General Department Administration for Conservation of Nature and Protection, and the National Focal Point of UN CBD, delivered a speech on the importance of biodiversity for maintaining the natural ecological balance and mitigating climate change. He also highlighted the role of biodiversity for providing energy sources, wildlife habitats and food; amongst other vital ecological services. H.E. Chay Samith also raised an important concern about invasive alien species, which are the main threat to biodiversity in islands and coastal areas.
The Minister of Environment and the Chair of the Biodiversity Steering Committee, H.E. Say Samal, provided interesting case studies on the daily uses of biodiversity values. He added that Cambodia is fortunate, in that large tracts of intact mangrove forests are still present in Koh Kong Province. In addition, H.E. Say Samal raised a pressing concern about sea level rise which has resulted in the submersion of land. The loss of cultivable land in Viet Nam and in Cambodia will be even greater under future climate change scenarios.
After the Minister of Environment’s address, a symbolic mangrove plantation ceremony took place at Peam Krasop Secondary School in Koh Kong. A visit to the natural mangroves in Peam Krasop Wildlife Sanctuary then followed, providing the attendees with the opportunity to witness habitats that support a wealth of biodiversity.
For further information:
Contact Mr Sun Kong (Kong.SUN@iucn.org)
BCR Field Coordinator