Conservationists hope global recognition will safeguard Cambodia’s landscapes

Conservationists hope global recognition will safeguard Cambodia’s landscapes

Heads swivelled as Sun Kerng redirected the rudder towards an area of gurgling pockets on the surface of the water. Visitors boating with the Mekong River can spot the glow of an Irrawaddy dolphin beginning to appear.

“This now should be the only place where you can see Irrawaddy dolphins. It has turn out to be rarer and scarcer, ” said Kerng, a boatman on the Anlong Kampi Dolphin Conservation Area in Cambodia’s Kratie Province where he has worked for more than two decades.

Kratie’s conservation area is a stronghold for the critically decreasing in numbers dolphin population within the Mekong, a key cause Cambodia’s Ministry of Environment plans to submit the area as its first natural world heritage site.

The particular move comes in tandem with another offer to the U. And. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) for Cambodia’s initial global geopark at Phnom Nam Lear Wildlife Sanctuary, Mondulkiri.

Having an UNESCO-recognized biosphere hold at Tonle Sap Lake, the duo of applications emphasize the ministry’s expanding interest in international reputation for Cambodia’s natural resources. While the procedure can take up to a 10 years, half a dozen natural websites are already under consideration meant for future submissions.

Researchers and conservationists debate regardless of whether global recognition can safeguard Cambodia’s landscapes from development and degradation. Or, in case these internationally-approved management plans would only be enforced on paper.

Sun Kerng, who has spent more than two decades functioning at Anlong Kampi, uses his toes to direct the boat’s rudder towards an Irrawaddy dolphin pool. Photo simply by Anton L. Delgado for Southeast Asia Globe

The dual designations would coincide using a flurry of appropriate anniversaries. It’s been 50 years because the signing of the world heritage convention and 30 years since the inscription of Angkor Wat as Cambodia’s first cultural site.

Masanori Nagaoka, an UNESCO culture specialist in Cambodia, explains these types of protections are not simply meant to safeguard natural landscapes, but also “contribute to climate modify and the sustainable development goal agenda. ”

“Angkor is really the icon of the country, but it is not it. We have very rich, stunning natural settings, biosphere reserves and also decreasing in numbers species to protect plus promote, ” Nagaoka said. “The choice of the sites depends on what the government pays focus on and considers. ”

Standing is the overarching benefit for these designations, he or she added. And while financing does not automatically include recognition as a world heritage site or even geopark, the designations are “an efficient tool to ensure the safety of the value. ”

World traditions status raises understanding of a location and results in tourism opportunities, local community engagement and efficient management. According to UNESCO, these additions would mean a significant step just for Cambodia to protect its biodiversity and natural landscapes.  

“The authorities has to make a pledge, not just to identify this type of wonderful site towards the world, but they need to promise to the entire world that they are committed to protecting such a value regarding future generations, ” Nagaoka said.  

Worldwide, UNESCO has specified more than 250 organic world heritage websites and nearly 180 geoparks. Heritage standing can be removed if management plans are not implemented by a given country.

As of 2021, Southeast Asia is home to 11 geoparks and fourteen natural world traditions sites, with Indonesia leading in both categories.

Acknowledgement by UNESCO pushes national, regional and local groups to operate together and models a higher standard for the environmental management from the area, according to Saut Sagala, a researcher at Indonesia’s Bandung Institute of Technologies, who has studied geo-tourism.

While he feels the designation of such sites could efficiently conserve landscapes over the region, Sagala warnings against an one-size fits all strategy.  

“There might be distinctions as well as distinct methods or uniqueness in the values, regulations, and conditions of each place. Not only across countries, but within countries, ” he mentioned. “Each place may set its own precedent and then these scenery can learn from one another. ”

The Ministry associated with Environment’s Department of Heritage Parks runs the applications. Department officials declined to be quoted, explaining that will internal policy only allows the ministry spokesman to be quoted publicly. However , these people shared that Anlong Kampi’s submission had been prioritised.

By the end of 2023, the department hopes to be able to send the submission to Best Minister Hun Sen for approval just before officially applying to UNESCO.

Within June, Ministry Speaker Neth Pheaktra introduced Anlong Kampi’s submission plans, saying entire world heritage list inscriptions would lead to worldwide interest and ensure an increase in tourist visiting. Pheaktra was not available for comment, subsequent multiple requests through Southeast Asia Globe .

A pair of Irrawaddy dolphins break the surface of the Mekong River. In 2020, the Mekong dolphin population had been estimated at only 89 individuals, according to a WWF report. Picture by Anton L. Delgado for Southeast Asia Globe

Entire world heritage inscriptions take several years and rely on the government’s effort, according to Renate Heileman who works with the natural sciences unit for UNESCO within Cambodia.

“The government continues to be very proactive within pursuing the preservation of its natural sites through these different means, ” Heileman said. “With entire world heritage, it provides additional support meant for regulatory and lawful protection through the planning of management plans and systems. ”

Apps begin with a distribution to UNESCO’s “Tentative List, ” where sites can remain for five in order to seven years prior to starting the nomination process. Landscapes are judged based on four criteria, which emphasise vulnerable species, unique biological features and overall “outstanding universal value. ” Recommendations are then made to the World Heritage Committee which makes the final decision.

The annual committee meeting, exactly where new additions towards the list are accepted, was planned in Russia for 06 2022, but continues to be delayed indefinitely adopting the Russian invasion associated with Ukraine. This post ponement has pushed back again the inscription of Cambodia’s fourth cultural world heritage web site, the Koh Ker Temple Complex in Preah Vihear Province.

With Cambodia’s three cultural sites and a 4th on the way, reviewing the submission for Anlong Kampi as the country’s first natural entire world heritage site might be a priority, Nagaoka said.

Globally, the International Partnership for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) provides classified the Irrawaddy Dolphin as “endangered” on its Red List of Threatened Species . But the subpopulations coping with Myanmar, Indonesia and Cambodia are considered “critically endangered. ”

The primary an environment, referred to as “pools, ” for Irrawaddy dolphins in the Mekong Lake spans a 180-kilometre stretch from Laos’ Khone Falls to Cambodia’s Kratie State.

The final dolphin in a pool on the Cambodia-Laos border died in Feb, entangled in a fishing net.

“If we can focus on this and UNESCO agrees to establish this particular area as an organic world heritage, I think it would be good for all of us because we actually can enforce legislation, ” said Rin Naroeun, protected area and law enforcement supervisor for World Wildlife Fund in Cambodia. He believes world heritage site list could benefit initiatives in law enforcement.

Naroeun, who also helped collect data for the world history site submission, said this loss only reinforces Anlong Kampi’s significance as a stronghold for Irrawaddy dolphins.  

As of 2020, the particular Mekong dolphin population was estimated in a mere 89 individuals, according to a WWF review . But a brand new population survey is usually expected to be launched in 2023, stated Naroeun, who hopes populations will display signs of growth.

“If we have UNESCO protection, we can push relevant stakeholders as well as the government authorities to better protect the location, ” Naroeun mentioned. “If world historical past is one of the governments’ aspires, especially the ministry of environment, I hope we will get it mainly because we really need it. ”

This short article was produced in relationship with The particular Pulitzer Center ’s Rainforest Investigations Network . A version of this story is available on Southeast Asian countries Globe with Focus – Ready for Tomorrow , the Khmer-language publication of Globe Media Asian countries.