Sunday, September 19, 2010

Threatened Wetlands of the World: Tonle Sap Lake, River and Wetlands of Cambodia

The Tonle Sap wetlands are one of the world's true and little known treasures. This Cambodian lake grows several times its normal size during the rainy season, when water from the Mekong River, which Tonle Sap normally drains into, backs up and floods the entire basin.

In recent times, hover, the Tonle Sap has been threatened by drainage projects, intensive agriculture, damming on the Mekong and other rivers, drought and other problems.

The Tonle Sap wetlands and lake is both a UN Biosphere Reserve, and also a Ramsar Protected Wetland. Even in the dry season, Tonle Sap is the largest lake in Southeast Asia. It is a last refuge for a dozen or more globally  threatened species. It is also a repository for numerous cultural treasures, including floating villages and villages built on stilts and provides fisheries and agricultural production to feed millions of people.

Even though few in North America have ever heard of Tonle Sap, it is easy to appreciate how critical the health of this wetland and water system is to the people of Cambodia, Southeast Asia and the entire world. As a part of her "Wetlands of the World" collection, Co2 Art partner Tatiana Iliina has created an abstract painting to recognize the beauty and importance of Tonle Sap.

Hopefully, her work will also serve to spread the word about this and other wetlands of the world.

Other wetlands that Tatiana has painted in the past have included the Vembenad Wetlands in India, Chesapeake Bay, in the U.S., the Tantromar Marshes in New Brunswick, Uste Luga in Russia and several others.

  Although all the other wetlands paintings have all been sold, Tatiana intends to build up enough wetland paintings for an exhibition that could be available to be shown in various venues. For now, Tonle Sap is available for purchase.

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