The government of Cambodia declared the creation of the Siem Pang Protected Forest on January 24. This declaration of the Protected Forest came after several years of lobbying by BirdLife Cambodian Program and the Forestry Administration in the country.
Covering an area of 66,932 hectares, the new Protected Forest covers almost half the Western Siem Pang Important Bird and Biodiversity Area. Siem Pang was the missing part of a jigsaw of protected forests that now extends across 700,000 hectares in southern Laos, northern Cambodia and western Vietnam, together making one of the largest protected landscapes in South East Asia.
“We congratulate the Royal Government of Cambodia for designating part of this unique Important Bird and Biodiversity Area as a Protected Forest,” said Dr. Marco Lambertini, BirdLife International’s chief executive.
BirdLife International and Cambodia’s Forestry Administration have been working together at this site for more than 10 years now, conserving its wildlife and habitats, and helping local communities to manage their livelihood sustainability. Siem Pang is the first new Protected Forest declared in Cambodia after four years.
“Designating Siem Pang as a Protected Forest will not only provide safe refuge to wildlife but it will benefit local communities in the longer term”, said Dr. Keo Omaliss, director of the Department Wildlife and Biodiversity of Forestry Administration in Cambodia.
“The Royal Government of Cambodia is committed to establishing more Protected Forest in the near future,” Omaliss said.
The wider site also supports populations of five critically endangered bird species, including the world’s largest population of White-shouldered Ibis and one of the largest populations of Giant Ibis, as well as populations of three vulture species.
“We are delighted by this result and it is a crucial step to protect these species,” said Bou Vorsak, BirdLife’s Cambodia program manager.
“To secure the globally important populations of these Critically Endangered birds, we now must work together to start sustainable management initiatives in the adjacent area,” he added.
(This article was first published in www.birdlife.org. BirdLife International is a global Partnership of independent organizations working together as one for nature and people. Haribon Foundation is the BirdLife partner in the Philippines.)