The Mekong River is the most important lifeline of the Mekong tropical forest. The river represents the second-biggest ecosystem in the world and is key to the survival of the forest and the livelihood of millions of people in the Lower Mekong River sub-region.
It’s all very connected but in Cambodia is where the link is more evident — the race to build dams along the river and its tributaries has contributed to causing severe droughts and to reducing Cambodia’s fisheries. In a vicious circle, the suffering of the river creates new waves of economic refugees who move into forested land and chop down trees to make space for cultivations.
At the same time, deforestation is causing a major disruption of sediment flow that is throwing off the entire Mekong River’s ecosystem. On paper, places like Pray Lang Forest and the Mekong River Flooded Forest are protected areas. In reality, they are among the most exploited and endangered, and the COVID-19 lockdowns have just precipitated the situation, with increased illegal logging activities pushed by a growing demand for precious hardwood. Cambodia lost 26% of its forests in the last decades, with a substantial increase after 2000.
In this project, Marzio G. Mian and his colleagues from the River Journal will explore the connections between the Mekong River and the Cambodian rainforest and the impact of the issues threatening them both is having on the people who live there.