In Cambodia, rice and fish products have been considered as the major means of generating food. Fisheries are one of the most important sectors, playing a role in the daily food production and contributing to the national economy. Fish consumption has traditionally been high in Cambodia, with the level of 52.4 kg per person per year.
The Tonle Sap Great Lake is the largest lake in Southeast Asia and is a very important habitat for fishes. Located in central Cambodia, it is sustained by the annual wet-season flood of the Mekong river, which increases the lake’s depth from 1 m to 10 m, and the lake’s area from 3,000 km2 to 15 000 km2.
The floodplain flooded forest provides habitat for a wide range of species including fish, water birds, mammals, reptiles and invertebrates. The lake supports the biggest colonies of large water birds in South-East Asia, including numerous globally threatened species. The birds are dependent upon the annual flood of the Tonle Sap, and breed when the fish productivity of the ecosystem is at its greatest. The floodplain, in particular the seasonally flooded forest, scrubs and grassland, is a vital habitat for fish and wildlife in the Tonle Sap, making it one of the most productive freshwater ecosystems in the world. Furthermore, the flooded forest also plays very important role in protection of erosion and storing carbon.
Cambodia still faces challenges on food insecurity and malnutrition, and Tonle Sap’s fisheries are crucial to address both of them. Cambodia has one of the most intensive fisheries and highest catches per inhabitant in the world. Some 1.2 million people live on the Tonle Sap lake and in the floodplain in approximately 1,000 villages depend on fisheries and agriculture for their livelihoods. Cambodians are the world’s largest consumers of freshwater fish per capita, relying mainly on fish and rice for their daily dietary energy sources. Fish provides Cambodians with up to 80% of their animal protein, and nearly half of Cambodia’s population consumes fish from the Tonle Sap. Furthermore, the flooded forests of the Tonle Sap provide a wide array of products including native foods, wood fuels and medicines for local consumption. Rice production on seasonally flooded fields is a predominant land use in the peripheral areas of the floodplain, and a key livelihood for the inhabitants of the Tonle Sap area. The seasonal floods provide important nutrients for rice production.
Human activities have led to important land use changes in and around the Tonle Sap lake. An increase in the number and size of human settlements, agriculture expansion and intensification (in particular rapid expansion of dry season rice cultivation, which is also associated with significant more use of agrochemicals than wet season rice cultivation), and exploitation of wood for fuel, charcoal production and construction materials have destroyed or converted large areas of floodplain vegetation. Fires, either accidentally occurring or intentionally lit for clearing and hunting, have also played an important role in modifying habitats throughout the floodplain. Recurrent or extensive fires can have profoundly negative impacts on the standing biomass and nutrient levels, expected to the reduce flowering and seed production, seedling survivorship and the vegetative propagation required to maintain vegetation cover and rehabilitate degraded areas.
Cambodia is highly vulnerable to climate impacts as a result of its geography, high reliance on agriculture and fisheries, socio-economic fragility and a low adaptive capacity resulting from the shortage of technically skilled human resources, institutional capacities and adaptation financing. Climate change is also predicted to affect the health of the Tonle Sap. It is increasing both atmospheric and water temperatures, the frequency of extreme weather events, and the variability of rainfall, and modifying hydrological patterns such as precipitation, evaporation, and flooding. Both the dams on the Mekong and climate change may provoke the disappearance of large tracts of the lake’s seasonally flooded habitats. These combined effects of shrinking and degrading flooded forests and vegetation, hydropower development of the Mekong, climate change and fires are expected to result in a significant reduction in the lake’s productivity, threatening local livelihoods, food security, and biodiversity.
Project Rational and target site
A landscape level integrated sustainable management is urgently needed. The landscape sites are being considered is Kulen Landscape. This landscape extends from the mountains to the Great Lake. Therefore, the protection and restoration of the flooded forest within these areas can help prevention of land erosion from the land sites into the Great Lake, improving fish productivities and reduction of Carbon emission.
The action will promote a wetland management which pursues simultaneously objectives related to biodiversity (aquatic and wetland fauna and flora), food security/fisheries/agriculture /livelihoods (maintaining productivity of fisheries and agriculture), and climate change (resilience of key ecosystems such as flooded forests for fish productivity, resilience of agriculture, and mitigation by combatting forest fires and climate-friendly rice production).
The flooded forest restoration and management project will target in three adjacent sites and will cover 40 hectares in Sor Sor Sdom commune, Pouk District, Siem Reap province. The proposed planting sites are located in the zone 3 – conservation zone under the sub-decree 197. Based on the sub-decree the area is strictly prohibited from clearance. However, the proposed planting sites has been invaded illegal people for agriculture purpose. Currently, in collaboration with local authorizes, local community the areas have been confiscated back by the Fisheries Administration Cantonments of Siem Reap.
The Overall Objective of the project is to promote an integrated and sustainable flooded forest rehabilitation and management in the Tonle Sap Great Lake which attains simultaneously related to biodiversity, food security/fisheries/agriculture/livelihoods, and climate change.
The Specific Objective of the project is to restore and manage 40 hectares of the flooded forest in Siem Reap province that will contribute to sustainable management of the Kulen Landscapes.
The objective contributes to implementing and achieving the Strategic Objective (SO) 1: Improve Management and monitoring of forest resources and forest land use and SO 2: Strengthen Implementation of Sustainable Forest management of the National REDD+ Strategy, Agricultural Sectorial Development Plan (ASDP) 2019-2023 and outcome 18.104.22.168 Degraded conservation areas rehabilitated and restored of the 10 Year Strategic Plan for Fisheries Conservation and Management.
Full Project Proposal in PDF (EN).