Stung Treng Ramsar Site is situated on the Mekong River between the Lao border and Stung Treng town (also written Stoeng Treng) in Cambodia. Along this stretch, the river is fast flowing with deep pools and numerous channels running between rocky and sandy islands; the seasonal variation in water height is 10 metres. It was designated as a Ramsar Site in 1999 because it contains a unique seasonally flooded riverine forest habitat, and is also home to the Irrawady Dolphin Orcaella brevirostris and the Mekong Giant Catfish Pangasianodon gigas.
More than 10,000 people live in or close to the Ramsar Site, and most of them rely on the Mekong for their food and livelihoods. Fish is the major source of protein and is also harvested to be sold. Many other species are also used, such as snails, crabs and frogs for food, and various plants for fuel wood, building, crafts and medicine. The regular flooding of the river supports rice farming using paddies.
The area is subject to a number of threats. Immigration is resulting in increased pressure on the wetland, with the clearance of land for agriculture and increased use of the natural resources. Upstream developments, such as hydro-electric dams and increasing water use by agriculture, are likely to change the river's flow regime, which will affect populations of fish and other aquatic biodiversity. Illegal harvesting activities such as fishing with explosives and collecting turtles and lizards are also having impacts. These pressures not only threaten the area's biodiversity, but also the livelihoods of the people who depend on it.
This project worked with the Mekong Wetlands Biodiversity Programme, and then with the IUCN Cambodia Office to document the value of wetland biodiversity to local communities. We are using existing data, on-going research (such as the Sala Phoum project) and new data generated from integrated assessments using the methods developed in the toolkit. We will bring this information together using maps to demonstrate the value that the Stung Treng wetlands provide to local communities, and to enable decision-makers to factor in this value when considering future developments to the region.