Why this wildlife sanctuary in Cambodia is in danger – along with hundreds of others around the world
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It is the BirdLife Secretariat, through its IBA programme, that pulls together all of this ever-changing information to provide a global perspective. And it does so much more. Zoltan Waliczky (BirdLife IBA Global Program Coordinator) explained that the Secretariat advocates for endangered IBAs to be safeguarded internationally, for example through the Ramsar Convention or with development banks.
The Secretariat also seeks support from other international conservation organizations through the KBA partnership and enhances BirdLife partners’ national campaigns, including through direct engagement with decision-makers and mobilizing expertise where it is most needed. . “We’re also releasing a ‘story map,'” says Waliczky, “which shows how BirdLife partners are actively tackling the most serious threats to endangered IBAs.”
Lomphat himself is a good example. Bou explains how BirdLife Cambodia is responding to the most pressing pressures facing the IBA. Ahead of the 30and anniversary of the sanctuary‘s official designation next year, NatureLife’s ambition is incredibly bold – but nothing short of Lomphat’s merits. Indeed, nothing less than Lomphat demands. Through structures known as “community protected area committees,” Bou says NatureLife “supports and encourages the local community to get involved in bird conservation, as well as the protection and restoration of the habitat”. One element is to engage local communities to manage the forest sustainably, in a way that not only helps conserve key flagship species such as the giant ibis, but also, critically, improves their own livelihoods. Bou plans to expand the IBIS Rice program and improve the efficiency of resource use by farmers while “strengthening community-based ecotourism, providing small grants for community-based management of protected areas, and conducting educational activities”.
NatureLife plans to strengthen the partnerships that manage, protect and enforce the law in Lomphat. The organization is particularly keen on cracking down on illegal activities, from mining and logging to hunting and land grabbing. In the short term, this partly involves equipping rangers with new mobile software to report and record transgressions in the field, and building community capacity to remove traps from trapaengs favored by cranes, sergeants and ibises.
This year, NatureLife will conduct more comprehensive baseline surveys of ibis populations. Above all, it aims to expand the living space available to these and other globally threatened birds so that, according to Bou, they have “greater breeding success”. NatureLife aims to reduce deforestation and save key bird habitats by preventing land encroachment, persuade the Cambodian government to free up 300 hectares of existing economic land concessions and designate the area for conservation, “successfully lobbying on the concessionaires so that they increase their environmental responsibilities” and launch a REDD+ initiative (financial mechanism aimed at reducing emissions due to deforestation and degradation).
Bou also plans to build local capacity so that communities “play a key role in protecting the forest and its globally threatened species.” For this Giant Ibis feeding next to the Lomphat traepang, this combination of predicted results would indeed be very good news.