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Centre for Biodiversity Conservation

Following decades of underinvestment in the education sector, biodiversity conservation in Cambodia is severely hampered by a shortage of trained conservationists and reliable biodiversity data. Located in the Department of Biology, the Centre for Biodiversity Conservation (CBC) aims to respond to these challenges by providing “A national hub for postgraduate education, original biodiversity research, information dissemination and inter-agency collaboration”.

The CBC strives to provides essential knowledge, skills and experience in contemporary conservation biology and in the management and sustainable use of natural resources. To this end, the centre presently undertakes activities in four areas, as follows:

Masters of Science in Biodiversity Conservation

Established in 2005, the Masters of Science in Biodiversity Conservation was created to address the urgent need for qualified conservationists to guide Cambodia towards sustainable development, address existing knowledge gaps, and uphold the nation’s commitments to conserving its biodiversity. Presently on its eleventh student intake, the postgraduate course provides university students and staff with:

  • A firm grounding in contemporary ecological and conservation management theory, and knowledge of project management and strategic planning

  • Real life and transferable experience in designing and undertaking field research, data analysis and interpretation, reporting and presentation

  • Outstanding opportunities to conduct original research and conservation projects with government agencies, non-government organisations and overseas universities and institutions.

Students completing the Masters are ideally equipped to enter the fast-growing sectors of biodiversity conservation and sustainable development in Cambodia and Southeast Asia. On completion of the programme, students with outstanding potential are also eligible for employment with the Centre for Biodiversity Conservation.

Zoological and Botanical Reference Collections

Linked to the postgraduate course, the CBC established zoological and botanical collections in purpose-built rooms at the Department of Biology in 2007. Still the only natural history museums dedicated to lesser-studied and smaller-bodied biota in Cambodia, the collections are an important step in reversing the historical pattern of biological material from the country being lodged in western institutions, which few Cambodian scholars can readily visit.

The purpose of the collections is to promote studies on Cambodia’s little known biodiversity by university staff and students, as well as researchers from other organisations. As a consequence, they have become an important national asset for cataloguing Cambodian biodiversity and are facilitating the development of much needed species identification guides and systematic revisions. The collections are also regularly used in teaching on the Masters programme and by students undertaking course assignments and second year thesis projects.

Cambodian Journal of Natural History

Cambodia’s first peer-reviewed scientific periodical was launched in 2008 by Fauna $amp; Flora International and the Royal University of Phnom Penh. Aimed at helping Cambodian scientists to share their findings and improve their writing skills, it addresses the critical need for information on the conservation status and management requirements of Cambodian biodiversity.

The journal publishes original work by Cambodian and foreign scientists on all aspects of Cambodian natural history, including species behaviour, new species records, landscape ecology, management policies and the use of natural resources. All papers are peer-reviewed by leading national and international scientists and published in English, with summaries in Khmer language. More than half of the authors are Cambodians. Guidelines for authors and previous issues of the journal can be freely downloaded at: http://www.fauna-flora.org/publications/cambodian-journal-of-natural-history/

Current Conservation Research

In 2009, the CBC established an initiative to assist Cambodian scholars to undertake original research on contemporary scientific and conservation questions. The studies undertaken by CBC staff frequently emphasize lesser known taxa, and as the centre already provides training to the postgraduate level through its Masters programme, the initiative further assists its scholars to secure financial support for doctoral studies and applied research projects.

The CBC undertakes collaborative projects with a range of partners with the goal of “Undertaking scientific research and monitoring to provide a sound basis for managing Cambodia’s globally important biodiversity”. Projects undertaken by CBC staff include:

Current

  • Identifying priority sites and conservation actions for the fishing cat (Prionailurus viverrinus) in Cambodia. Principle Investigator: Ms Thaung Ret, in association Dr Nicholas Souter (Fauna & Flora International – Cambodia).

  • Biodiversity conservation and ecosystem management training for community development NGOs and local communities. Principle implementer: Mr. Chhin Sophea; Ms. Thi Sothearen; Ms. Vannessa, in association with Oxfam American and Dr. Nicholas Souter (Fauna & Flora International – Cambodia).

  • Investigating the status of masked finfoot Helopais personata in Cambodia. Principle Investigator: Ms Thaung Ret, in association with Mr Daniel Willcox (Wildlife Conservation Society - Cambodia) and Dr Nicholas Souter (Fauna & Flora International – Cambodia)

  • Biodiversity conservation and ecosystem management training for community development NGOs and local communities. Principle Investigator: Mr Chhin Sophea (MSc), in association with Ms Thi Sothearen and Dr Nicholas Souter (Fauna & Flora International – Cambodia

  • A taxonomic review of the Rhinolophus megaphyllus group (Rhinolophidae) in Southeast Asia with particular reference to Rhinolophus affinis. Principal investigator: Mr. Ith Saveng (PhD candidate), in association with Dr Sara Bumrungsri (Prince of Songkla University, Thailand), Dr Nikky Hammond (Harrison Institute, UK), Dr Gabor Csorba (Hungarian Natural History Museum) and Dr Neil Furey (Fauna & Flora International - Cambodia)

  • Use and ecology of medicinal plants of the Cardamom Mountains in Thmar Bang District in Cambodia. Principal investigator: Mr. Ly Viboth (PhD candidate), in association with Dr Jean-louis Devineau (IRD, France), Dr Hul Sovanmoly (Museum National d’Histoire Naturelle, France), Dr David Bruno (Pierre-Fabre Research Institute, France), Dr Anne Fournier (IRD, France) and Prof. Cheng Sun Kaing (Faculty of Pharmacy, Cambodia)

Completed

  • Building capacity for conservation in Bokor National Park, Cambodia. Principal investigator: Mr. Chhin Sophea (MSc), in association with Mr. Frederic Goes (Freelance Ornithologist), Dr Carl Traeholt (Copenhagen Zoo, Denmark), Dr Neil Furey and Mr. Neang Thy (Fauna & Flora International - Cambodia)

  • Cambodian butterflies: Species composition, biogeography and environmental gradients. Principal investigator: Mr. Hun Seiha, in association with Dr Alexander Monastyrskii (Vietnam-Russia Tropical Centre, Vietnam)

  • Cambodian bats: Systematics and conservation. Principal investigator: Mr. Chheang Sarak (MSc), in association with Dr Neil Furey (Fauna &Flora International - Cambodia), Dr Gabor Csorba (Hungarian Natural History Museum) and Dr Paul Bates (Harrison Institute, UK)

  • Rapid assessment to determine priorities for cave bat conservation in southern Cambodia. Principal investigator: Mr. Phauk Sophany (MSc), in association with Mr. Chheang Sarak and Dr Neil Furey (Fauna & Flora International - Cambodia)

  • Cambodian herpetofauna: Systematics and conservation. Principal investigator: Mr. Neang Thy (MSc), in association with Dr Lee Grismer (La Sierra University, USA) and Dr Bryan Stuart (North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, USA).

  • Conserving the last remaining wild populations of hog deer Axis porcinus annamiticus in Cambodia. Principal investigator: Mr. Phauk Sophany (MSc), in association with Mr. Chantha Nasak and Ms. Sarah Brook (Fauna & Flora International - Cambodia)

  • Cambodian rotifers: Species diversity and distribution in the upper part of the Cambodian Mekong River Basin. Principal investigator: Ms. Meas Seanghun (MSc), in association with Mr. Sor Ratha (MSc) and Dr Hendrik Segers (Royal Belgian Institute for Natural Sciences)

  • Baseline survey of zooplankton communities as an indicator of water environment in two lakes connected with the Mekong River in Cambodia. Principal investigator: Ms. Meas Seanghun (MSc), in association with Mr. Sor Ratha (MSc) and Dr Hendrik Segers (Royal Belgian Institute for Natural Sciences)

Contact Info

Dr. Ith Saveng
Tel: (855)12 507 492
Mr. Kheam Sokha
Tel: (855)92 299 474
Email: mbiodiversity.info(at)rupp.edu.kh
Office: Room #415, Campus I

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