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Mapping The Ramsar 999 Site In Stung Treng, Cambodia

Updated: Dec 27, 2020

ABOUT | Our project identified locations, distributions and conditions of four ecosystems, namely, flooded forest, open waters, islands and bamboo, in the upper region of Ramsar Site 999 in Stung Treng, Cambodia. It also attempted to examine the ecosystem services provided in those areas.  GIS mapping and rapid assessments were employed. This article briefly summaries the project scope, findings and implications.

Team members: 
Xie Yuchen, Claudia Gee Yi Teng and Mech Streytoch

INTRODUCTION


Ramsar Sites are wetlands inscribed in the List of Wetlands of International Importance (the Ramsar List) under the Ramsar Convention. The Convention aims to conserve and foster the sustainable use of resources for present and future generations. In Cambodia, there are four Ramsar Sites, one of which is “Middle Stretches of Mekong River, North of Stoeng Treng” – known as Ramsar Site 999 (see below the map).


Source: Authors’ own[1]


The riverine region is dynamic and react to changes in water flow or sediment composition in the water. Islands are constantly being eroded or reformed due to the hydrodynamics of the river. The ephemeral nature of such landscapes may potentially affect the livelihoods of communities, such as fishery and eco-tourism, that are dependent on natural resources and habitats (see other articles for details). Therefore, more attentions should given to awareness raising of the environmental conservation of those areas.


In order to promote the conservation effort, it is essential to understand what types of ecosystems are situated, where they are located, and what ecosystem services are provided. Ecosystem services can be viewed from four aspects: provisioning, regulatory, cultural and supporting services, as illustrated below [2].  Out research project therefore aims to contribute to the enhancement of these understandings, by creating maps and images on ecosystem distributions and current conditions as well as sharing surveyed information on ecosystem services. This article briefly summaries the project scope, findings and implications.


Final Recommendations of the Interagency Ocean Policy Taskforce, 2010[2]


PROJECT SCOPE


Project title: Mapping the types of ecosystems in the upper region of Ramsar site 999 in Stung Treng, Cambodia

Project aim: To raise the awareness on the environmental conservation awareness of the Ramsar Site

Project objective: 1) to identify locations, distributions and conditions of four ecosystems, namely, flooded forest, open waters, islands and bamboo and 2) to examine the ecosystem services provided

Data collected: Types of ecosystems; degrees of erosion and deposition; and ecosystem services

Data collection methods: 1) mark and display particular localities on QGIS as point and polygon layers (see below), with the respective relevant photographs and videos attached to it on Google Maps; 2) take multiple aerial photos from drone flybys in two environments, namely, island and flooded forests, and digitize them by using ArcMap and ENVI; and 3) conduct a rapid-assessment and investigate the characteristics of four types of ecosystem services mentioned above)

Data referred to:

  1. RAMSAR_2014 → baseline data recorded in 2014. Since then, there has been evident landform changes as proved by the presence of new, unrecorded islands and the disappearance of some

  2. RAMSAR boundary line

  3. Rapid assessment locations → 4 ecosystems were selected: Bamboo, Island, Open water, Flooded forest. The location of where we chose to conduct the rapid assessment is relatively location unspecific and the benefits can be assumed to be enjoyed or suffered regardless of location (but restricted to RAMSAR 999)

  4. Landform changes → areas of deposition and erosion. The numbering is insignificant. Clicking on individual data will launch a pop up with relevant photos and/or videos accurate as of 29 September 2018.

  5. Localities → site of major points

  6. Vegetation → different vegetation covers: palm, vine, rice, flooded forests, bamboo. The numbering is insignificant. Clicking on individual data will launch a pop up with relevant photos and/or videos accurate as of 29 September 2018.

  7. Basemap → different basemaps to toggle with depending on personal preference

(insert video from the team)

Drone flybys employed

PROJECT OUTPUTS


The following images are created.




PROJECT FINDINGS


Among the ecosystems targeted, bamboo has a significant positive benefit in provisioning services as it can be used for boiling water, cooking rice and a source of fuel. In addition, open water provides significant positive benefits in cultural services, acting as valuable tourism hotspots for dolphin and bird watching.


PROJECT IMPLICATIONS


The rapid assessment results could encourage local authorities and NGOs to pursue environmental conservation efforts for the future generations. Furthermore, the identification of erosional and deposition sites, coupled with a closer examination of digitised landscapes, will allow us to further examine environmental changes by comparing them with existing maps of the past land classifications.  We hope that these studies would promote a better understanding of the ever-changing terrains of the RAMSAR site and encourage the authorities to formulate environmental conservation protocols in the future.

 

REFERENCES

  1. Authors’ own

  2. Final Recommendations of the Interagency Ocean Policy Taskforce, 2010, https://www.nsf.gov/geo/opp/opp_advisory/briefings/nov2010/optf_finalrecs.pdf, last accessed December 2018.