Overpopulation and corruption have put enormous pressure on once-abundant wetlands and forests in Cambodia. Overfishing and
deforestation is destroying these ecosystems to such an extent that Cambodia's future may soon repeat ancient history.
Tags:Cambodia Dealing with Overfishing,corruption in cambodia,earth report,mekong river,overfishing in cambodia,sustainable fishing in cambodia,television for the environment,tonle sap lake,tve
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Cambodia Dealing with Overfishing
Correspondent: The reason behind the empire’s collapse is unclear but could the people have run out of some crucial resource like some other great civilizations.
David Pearce (Environmental Economist, CSERGE): We look at just their ancient history. We look at the Mayan civilization, we look at Aztec civilizations. If we look at the civilizations that have disappeared from them at least, what you frequently find is that the southern disappearance of these civilizations may of course be due to some dramatic, climactic event in draft of some kind, but very often it is due to the fact that they depleted the one resource on which they’re totally dependent.
Correspondent: This is a story about how abusing our natural resources can cripple our future. It is the story about the need to assess the value of our natural assets so that they are available year after year forever. Not destroyed by those who want to take the money and run. Cambodia is our focus. In this small Asian kingdom, ancient history maybe about to repeat itself, over fishing and deforestation are killing the country’s most precious wetland, the Tonle Sap Lake. The rice and fish basket of more than 10 million people, after 30 years the Civil War is over. The country is seeking prosperity but its natural resources are not being used in a sustainable way. The future of the nation is in dire straights.
Rampant population increase and corruption are scavenging the kingdom. Over fishing is a critical natural resource issue. For this reason the United Nations Environment Program and economists aim to assist the Cambodian government in evaluating the true economic value of the Tonle Sap if used in a sustainable manner.
Mao Kaosal (IUCN-GEF Liaison Officer): One of the objectives is influence and encourage the government to use the natural resources sustainably. This process, this objective can influence the government.
Correspondent: The Tonle Sap is not just any lake it is one of the most productive inland fisheries of the world. This wetland is a pure natural hydrological wonder linked to the Mekong by a major tributary river. When the monsoons come the swollen waters of the Mekong create a reverse flow in the river northwards. The lake swells by up to 5 times flooding its surrounding forest making a precious feeding ground for spawning fish. In the dry season the waters recede and a fertile layer of silt is left on the soil.
For some years now the average size of the fish harvested has decreased. Some species have vanished completely. This is a clear indication of over fishing. There is little hope that the fish here will return to the high levels of other days. Cambodia’s leaders are well aware of the value of their natural assets.
H.E. Chhea Song (Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Cambodia): Our ancestors have left us with huge natural resources and it is our duty to take them for our survival.
Correspondent: But for who’s benefit?
Sam Rainsy (MP, Opposition Leader-Cambodia): Cambodia is a potentially rich country. Anyway we have enough to satisfy everybody’s need but not everybody’s greed.
Correspondent: Cambodia’s situation is compounded by corruption some say it is the main cause of environmental degradation. Cambodia lost 27% of its precious tropical rainforest between 1980 and 1995. Mainly through commercial logging and over exploitation is partly a result of outside demands from Cambodia’s neighboring countries. The effects of such wide spread deforestation have already had an immense ecological impact on the lake.
Patrick Alley (Director, Global Witness): Deforestation is silting up the lake and new from its study said about 2025 it would be tilted out but it’s certainly getting shallower every year.
Correspondent: Cutting down trees causes soil erosion and siltation of the Tonle sap killing off the valuable fisheries and when the lake will totally silt up a while new series of ecological breakdown will arise. But despite such warnings policies are still ineffective today.
Sam Rainsy (MP, Opposition Leader-Cambodia): Cambodian people after the Khmer Rouge have learned to live on a day today basis. They do not know what the future will be made off so in order to survive they are prepared to do anything.
Presently, governments are only interested in short term gains, short term profits. At the detriment of the future of the country because if deforestation continue like it is now if over fishing continue as it is now Cambodia will be turned into a desert in the next 10 to 15 years.
Patrick Alley (Director, Global Witness): Cambodia’s forest had been regarded by those who control them as a product bank account if you like. If you want to fund your wars with Khmer Rouge you chop down trees and send them to Thailand and if you want to fund your coup if you want to fund your political party, if you want to pay off your business supporters you cut down trees and you get them to cut down trees.
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