Koh Kong, Cambodia , 23 and 24 February - More than 500 people gathered to celebrate the World Wetlands’ Day in Peam Krasop Wildlife Sanctuary (PKWS ) in Koh Kong where is home to the largest mangrove forests in Cambodia.
The event was co-organized by the Department of Wetlands and Coastal Zones (DoWCZ), Ministry of Environment and Pannasastra University of Cambodia, and supported by several agencies such as Fisheries Administration of Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, IUCN's Mekong Water Dialogues, EU, Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland, Birdlife International, FFI, WCS, WWF, Live & Learn, NGO Forum, Mlub Baitong, Link World Guide and Travel, Co and GEF, UNDP and Danida.
The event was participated by representatives from all sectors in the society including Koh Kong Provincial authorities, Department of Wetlands and Coastal Zones, Pannasastra University of Cambodia, Provincial Environmental Department of Koh Kong, non-government agencies based in Koh Kong, and primary and secondary schools.
The theme of this year's celebration of this event was 'Protecting wetlands is ‘‘Protecting Sources of Water’’.
"If there is no wetlands, there is no water and if there is no water, there is no wetlands. It meant that if there is no wetlands and water, our lives do not exist. Therefore, we should all maintain and protect the wetlands with the slogan stating that Preserving wetlands is in response to the mitigation of climate change”, said H.E Say Socheat, Deputy Koh Kong Provincial Governor.
At PKWS, the coastal area is degraded by sand migration which leads to mangroves loss. To prevent coastal erosion and reduce beach migration, participants helped planted 500 mangrove seedlings and grass species that play a part in preventing erosion. Moreover, it contributes to biodiversity abundance in which enhance natural barrier to protect the storms and big waves that is the building coastal resilience to climate change impacts to reduce hazards and improve resilience to climate change for local community nearby and in the PKWS as a whole.
"If the wetlands are to be sustainably maintained and protected to continue its functions and services, active and full participation from all of us is needed because it is not a unique responsibility of any independent institutions, it is our shared responsibilities in the management and protection," said Mr. Kong Kimsreng, Senior Programme Officer, IUCN Cambodia. Remarkably, during that event, university students were active in educating the young students about the values and benefits of the wetlands and had quiz for rewards.
Dr. Chea San Chanthan, Chancellor of Pannasastra University of Cambodia, stressed that youth participation, especially from all levels of students, in protecting, managing and restoring the wetlands, is a potential mechanism to sustain the wetlands to maintain its normal functioning and services to support people's livelihoods.
"I am very happy to participate in this type of events. It also reflected youth participation in the conservation and management of the natural resources, esp. mangrove forests which play an immense role in reducing coastal erosion, providing services to both people and the nature such as environmental balance and climate change mitigation", added Mr. Chhorm Kakada, 2nd year student from the Pannasastra University of Cambodia,
"It was the first time that WWD was organized in Koh Kong province. The annual celebration of this event plays a significant role in promoting public awareness about the functions and values of the wetlands", said Dr. Srey Sunleang, Director of DoWCZ.
Cambodia is one of contracting parties to the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance, called the Ramsar Convention on 23 October 1999. The convention at conservation and wise use of wetlands and resources by initiating public awareness event, World Wetlands Day (WWD), on 2 February by Ramsar Parties worldwide. In Cambodia, Ministry of Environment is responsible for organizing the event annually in order to promote public awareness of the values and functions of the wetlands and its benefits to people and of the Ramsar Convention.
By Sun Kong, Lou Vanny and Sorn Pheakdey
For more information, please contact Mr. KONG Kimsreng, Senior Programme Officer, IUCN Cambodia