A Visit to Cambodia’s Tonle Sap Biodiversity Reserve Marks the EU’s #ForOurPlanet Campaign

The EU Delegation to Cambodia, together with embassies of EU Member States (Germany, France, Hungary), have organised a field visit to the Tonle Sap Biodiversity reserve on Jan. 30-31. The visit, as part of the EU's global #ForOurPlanet campaign to promote environmental sustainability, was led by the H.E. Eang Sophalleth, Minister of Environment of the Government of Cambodia, Ambassador of the EU, H.E. Igor Driesmans and of Germany, H.E. Stefan Messerer, said a press release AKP received this morning. The visit offered an intimate look into biodiversity conservation, forestry protection, and environmental sustainability - a testament to the broader EU #ForOurPlanet campaign echoing its commitment to environmental sustainability worldwide, it added. The Tonle Sap Biosphere Reserve, a globally significant wetland ecosystem in Cambodia, not only harbours a diverse range of flora and fauna but is also a lifeline for local communities, contributed to their daily needs. During the field visit, the source point ed out, participants explored the rich biodiversity and unique ecological landscape of the Tonle Sap region, where they observed waterbirds at Prek Toal Ramsar and met with local communities and authorities in conserving the lake's biodiversity, promoting sustainable forestry practices, and protecting local communities' livelihoods. Guided tours to project sites of the EU funded 'Our Tonle Sap' Project, implemented by a consortia led by the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) provided valuable insights into the challenges and successes of conservation efforts, sustainable resource management, and community engagement in environmental protection. EU Ambassador to Cambodia, H.E. Igor Driesmans, expressed the significance of the visit: 'The #ForOurPlanet campaign reflects the EU's profound commitment to safeguarding our planet. Today's visit to Tonle Sap Biodiversity Reserve is a testament to our active engagement in preserving biodiversity, promoting sustainable practices, and supporting local communities in C ambodia. Together with the NGO's and CSO's implementing our various projects, our Member States and the Government of Cambodia, our collective action aims to ensure resilient ecosystems, communities, and biodiversity withstand rapid environmental changes in the Tonle Sap Biosphere Reserve.' The Ambassador of Germany to Cambodia, H.E. Stefan Messerer added: 'Germany provided considerable funds to improve the income generation of the local communities in the Ramsar Sites Prek Toal and Stung Treng. This is important in order to protect biodiversity and ecosystems along the Mekong. I think that all transboundary Water Cooperation Projects supported by the Mekong River Commission (MRC) are of imminent importance. The MRC also supports transboundary projects with Thailand and Laos for better drought management, including a component for monitoring plastic pollution in the lower Mekong Basin. These activities are being supported by Germany as well. Furthermore, Germany supports the MRC and their National Mekong C ommittees to become more efficient to deal with the increasing environmental challenges in the Mekong region, also caused by climate change.' Minister of Environment, H.E. Eang Sophalleth, urged to promote conservation, community engagement and empowerment, research and development, scientific sound policy, and climate resilience. Through continued conservation efforts and these approaches, we will safeguard its biodiversity, ensure food security for millions, and preserve the ecological balance of this unique wetland. 'I strongly hope that our action today here at Prek Toal will have a more positive impact on the conservation and protection of flooded forests and the Tonle Sap Lake as a whole, to secure the future of the Tonle Sap Lake and its irreplaceable ecological web. In addition, I hope that such action will actively spread across our country,' he stated. Source: Agence Kampuchea Presse