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UEA research reveals catastrophic loss of Cambodia's tropical flooded grasslands
Date:3/17/2013

argest remaining population of the critically endangered Bengal florican - the world's rarest bustard. This bird has experienced a dramatic population decline of 44 per cent in seven years due to the destruction of its grassland habitat. Other birds under threat in this area include sarus cranes, storks, ibises and eagles.

"Rural communities have been left vulnerable to land-grabbing and privatisation of -communal grasslands. Traditional, low-intensity use of the grasslands by these communities, such as burning and cattle-grazing, help to maintain the grasslands and prevent scrubland from invading.

"Intensive commercial rice production by private companies, involving the construction of huge channels and reservoirs for irrigation, is denying local communities access to the grasslands on which their livelihoods depend and destroying a very important habitat for threatened wildlife.

"This high-speed conversion and land-grabbing has intensified pressure on already threatened species and on the marginalised rural communities that depend on the grassland ecosystem.

"The loss of this entire ecosystem from Southeast Asia is imminent without immediate intervention. In 2009 only 173 km of grassland were under some form of protection, but by 2011 even these protected areas were shrinking with 28 per cent lost to intensive cultivation.

"Flooded grasslands in Thailand and Vietnam have already been almost completely lost. Only a strong political commitment to protection and restoration can prevent the impending loss of the last major flooded grassland in Southeast Asia."

Researchers compared aerial photographs taken in 2005 with land cover maps from 1995 and 1996. They found that the greatest losses had occurred in the north and west and in inner floodplain areas. The least affected area was in the southeast of the floodplain.

They then collected habitat information from almost 1,000 points to establish the
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Contact: Lisa Horton
l.horton@uea.ac.uk
44-016-035-92764
University of East Anglia
Source:Eurekalert  

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UEA research reveals catastrophic loss of Cambodia's tropical flooded grasslands
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