via Khmer NZ News Media
June 10, 2010
The Cambodian government is planning to declare more than 600,000 hectares of flooded forest around the Tonle Sap lake as a conservation area in an attempt to stop the large-scale destruction of the forests, local media reported on Thursday, citing a senior official.
Fisheries Administration Director Nao Thuok said that in recent weeks fisheries officials and the Tonle Sap Authority had held meetings to discuss the zoning and demarcation of 640,000 hectares of the lake's floodplains and flooded forest, which are important wetseason habitats for the lake's rich fisheries, local English newspaper The Cambodia Daily reported.
Over the past few months, the government has ordered the dismantling of 15 man-made reservoirs, covering around 3,600 hectares of floodplain, in Kompong Thom province alone.
Thuok said that based on aerial photography, officials estimated in 2005 that around 700,000 hectares of flooded forest remained. Earlier, that figure had been estimated at about 1 million hectares of seasonally inundated forest located in the five provinces that surround the great lake.
Tonle Sap biosphere reserve director Long Kheay was quoted as saying that large-scale commercial farming and dry-season forest fires were the main factors contributing to the flooded forests' demise, adding that agricultural land conversion had been concentrated mainly on the floodplain in Kompong Thom and Siem Reap provinces.