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Downstream Impacts of Dams on the Seasonally Inundated Riverine Forests of the Mekong River in Northeastern Cambodia

Downstream Impacts of Dams on the Seasonally Inundated Riverine Forests of the Mekong River in Northeastern Cambodia | Webinar with Dr. Ian Baird
This webinar was recorded on November 17, 2022

Abstract

On the Mekong River, north of the town of Stung Treng in northeastern Cambodia, and below the border with Laos, lies an area of riverine seasonally flooded forest designated as a Ramsar wetland site because of its exceptional biodiversity and uniqueness. The cumulative impacts of numerous upstream hydropower dams in China and Laos are destroying this vital ecosystem due to the release of increased amounts of water during the dry season, preventing the flooded forest from experiencing its critically important drying out period. In this paper, we investigate the damage being wrought on these flooded forests, and on the various animal species that depend on them. Different species have been affected differently, but some have been significantly impacted. Others are being increasingly affected. This loss of important habitat is having a significant impact on fisheries, especially for a number of Pangasiidae catfish and cyprinid carps. New dams upriver, and continued high dry-season water releases from existing dams, are likely to lead to the continued degradation and possibly the complete eradication of the flooded forests along the mainstream Mekong River in the coming years, unless serious measures are taken to address the problem.

Speaker

Dr. Ian Baird is a professor of Geography at the University of Wisconsin-Madison as well as the CKS Senior Research Fellow. His research interests are broad, but include political ecology, political geography, large-scale dam construction in the Mekong River Basin, Mekong fisheries management, Indigenous peoples, and agrarian change in mainland Southeast Asia. He has a particular interest in marginalized peoples. His most recent book, Rise of the Brao: Ethnic Minorities in Northeastern Cambodia during Vietnamese Occupation, was published by the University of Wisconsin Press in 2020, and was recently the recipient of the 2nd runner-up for the 2022 EuroSEAS book prize (humanities).

Moderator

Dr. Eve Zucker, CKS President

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in the publications and through webinars are solely those of the authors or speakers. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of The Center for Khmer Studies, Inc. The designations employed in the publications and through the webinars, and the presentation of material therein, do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of The Center for Khmer Studies, Inc. as to the matters discussed therein. The responsibility for opinions expressed in the publications and webinars are solely those of the authors or speakers, and the publication does not constitute an endorsement by The Center for Khmer Studies, Inc. of the opinions, views or issues discussed therein.

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