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Osmose

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> …THE TONLE SAP IS NOW AN ENDANGERED MASTERPIECE OF NATURE

The ecosystem balance is seriously disturbed by direct human pressure and large-scale development in the Mekong basin.

The Angkorian civilization would never have achieved such a great power and influence without the natural richness of the Tonle Sap Lake. Supporting over 200 known plant species, as many fish and bird species, and about thirty reptiles, including numerous globally threatened species, the Tonle Sap is a wetland of international importance for biodiversity conservation. Ever-growing human pressure on its resources seriously jeopardizes its future. Illegal and destructive fishing techniques (pumping, electric fishing, etc.), extensive poaching, loss of flooded forest (clearing for agriculture, fires, cutting for firewood) are all converging to deplete the lake biodiversity base.

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Furthermore, exotic invasive plants, such as Water Hyacinth or Giant Mimosa, colonize degraded areas. Beyond these local threats, hydroelectric dams under construction on the Chinese Mekong are expected to significantly disturb the hydrological cycle of the lake while numerous project on the Lower Mekong, would block fish migration and nutriments flow. This could result in a massive depletion of the lake biological productivity and lead to a major food crisis in Cambodia. Through its interventions and approach, Osmose addresses these threats at a local level, by initiating changes in the patterns of exploitation of natural resources and by supporting alternative livelihoods which reduce the dependency of local populations on declining natural resources (see page Development).

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