PURSAT PROVINCE, Cambodia — Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) Cambodia, in cooperation with the Ministry of Environment and the Pursat Provincial Administration and Department of Environment, announced the official designation of the Bakan grassland as a national protected area officially called the Bakan Protected Landscape. This key move safeguards a vital habitat for biodiversity and aligns with Cambodia's commitment to the global 30x30 initiative: aiming to protect 30% of the Earth's land and seas by 2030.
Covering 38,430 hectares, comparable to the combined area of the Galapagos Islands, the Bakan Protected Landscape is a critical component of the Tonle Sap ecosystem. It is a naturally flooded grassland that becomes a dynamic aquatic habitat in the wet season. This unique environment is home to critically endangered species like the Bengal Florican, Yellow-breasted Bunting, Manchurian Reed-warbler, and Cambodia's only known population of the elusive Chinese Grassbird.
Recognizing the ecological importance of this landscape since the early 2000s, WCS Cambodia and its partners have dedicated the past five years to advocating for its official protection. This marks Cambodia's first new protected area in the Tonle Sap Floodplain since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, illustrating a continued focus on preserving this ecologically significant region.
Over the last decade, the lake region has undergone significant land use changes, threatening its rich biodiversity. The Bakan Protected Landscape remains the last significant inundated natural grassland habitat in the southern part of the Tonle Sap Floodplain, underscoring the urgency and importance of its protection.
Local communities have been central to this conservation initiative. Their continued engagement has been instrumental from initial planning to the present, and they will maintain their crucial role in combining traditional practices with the conservation of this diverse ecosystem.
The official protection of the Bakan Landscape is not just a national achievement—it is a concrete step towards the global 30x30 initiative. Supported by Cambodia and over 100 other nations, this initiative is critical to bending the curve on biodiversity loss, responding to climate change, and ensuring a sustainable future for our planet.
Through the combined efforts of WCS Cambodia, the Ministry of Environment, local communities, the Rainforest Trust, the European Union’s Our Tonle Sap project, and the Margaret A. Cargill Philanthropies, this milestone symbolizes the continued collaboration among conservation organizations dedicated to the landscape’s protection and community support.
About WCS Cambodia
Wildlife Conservation Society Cambodia is dedicated to saving wildlife and wild places in Cambodia through science, conservation action, and inspiring people to value nature. WCS has been working in Cambodia since 1999, focusing on conserving key wildlife species and their habitats. Standing with Wildlife, United for Cambodia. For more information, please visit https://cambodia.wcs.org/.
For high-resolution press photos from today's public announcement, you can click here.
For more information, please contact:
Ms. Phalkun Chan
Wildlife Conservation Society Cambodia