Banners promoting the importance of wetlands adorned the streets in five provinces of Cambodia throughout February this year. The capital Phnom Penh and provinces of Kampong Thom, Stung Treng, Battambang, Kok Kong and Pursat celebrated the 40th anniversary of the Ramsar convention for World Wetlands Day 2011.
The site selected for the main World Wetlands Day celebrations was the Kampong Luong wetlands, located within the Tonle Sab biosphere reserve of Krakor district, Pursat province. This province is the fourth largest province in Cambodia and is located in the western part of the country.
A day of celebration was organised on 20 February at Kampong Loung Secondary School. One of the main reasons the Kampong Luong wetlands was chosen was that it is located not far from the Boeung Tonle Chmar Ramsar site and one of big floating communities. A parade was organized from Kampong Loung secondary school to floating village to demonstrate the commitment of all participants in conserving the ecosystem of wetland and educated the local communities about wetland’s value linked to their livelihood.
The Deputy Governor of Pursat Province, H.E. Pech Horn, led the parade and was joined by more than 500 people for the celebrations. Participants came from various institutions such as government stakeholder representatives from National and Pursat provincial level, Phnom Penh university students, local communities, and primary and secondary school students.
As part of the parade, participants wore World Wetlands Day t-shirts and carried posters, they also collected rubbish along the four kilometre route. The parade also provided the opportunity for local decision-makers, including H.E. Pech Horn, to directly interact and speak with local community members whose livelihoods depend on wetlands and inundated forests.
Afterwards, sixty university students from Phnom Penh joined the ten classes of primary and secondary school students as extension trainers for a “Wetlands Knowledge Sharing” session. The university students shared their understanding and knowledge of biodiversity values, and services of wetland and forests. After a short quiz on their new knowledge, the children with correct answers were presented with a small award.
The event was captured by national television and radio stations, and an article will also be printed in official magazine of Ministry of Environment which going to circulate to all government departments.
In Cambodia the Department of Wetlands and Costal Zones (DWC) of the General Department of Administration for Nature Conservation and Protection of the Ministry of Environment, is serving as a national Ramsar Administration Authority (RRA) and government focal point to the convention.
To raise the awareness of the value of wetland ecosystem in Cambodia, the annual public celebration of World Wetlands Day is working was a collaboration with relevant government agencies and Non Governmental Organization partners, including IUCN, BirdLife International Flora and Fauna International, Conservation International, World Wildlife Fund, International Crane Foundation, Wildlife Conservation Society, Mlub Baitong, Culture and Environmental Preservation. The Environmental Department of Pursat Province also supported this national event.