Tuesday, April 14, 2009
The designated wetland regions of Cambodia are under threat from all directions. One of two key sites is located on the Mekong River between Stung Treng and the border with Laos, this is called Ramsar Site 999. The biodiversity of the area is rich in fish, birds, mammals, reptiles and vegetation. Along this stretch, the river is fast flowing with deep pools and numerous channels running between rocky and sandy islands; the seasonal variation in water height is 10 metres. It was designated as a Ramsar Site in 1999 because it contains a unique seasonally flooded riverine forest habitat, and is also home to the Irrawady Dolphin and the Mekong Giant. More than 10,000 people live in or close to the Ramsar Site, and most of them rely on the Mekong for their food and livelihoods. Fish is the major source of protein and is also harvested to be sold. Many other species are also used, such as snails, crabs and frogs for food, and various plants for fuel wood, building, crafts and medicine. The regular flooding of the river supports rice farming using paddies. An exhibition of fine art panoramic prints by Paul Stewart from Ramsar Site 999 will take place between 27 April thru til 31 May at the FCC in Phnom Penh. Take the time to see the endangered Cambodian wetlands for yourself.