Siem Reap, Cambodia, 19 December 2013 – The governments of Lao PDR and Cambodia together with the IUCN offices in both countries have been working extensively in the conservation of their wetlands since both countries acceeded to the Ramsar Convention in 2010 and 1999 respectively. During that time, many strides have been made to discover the best practices that are applicable within both countries.
Cambodia, Lao PDR, Thailand and Vietnam, through the Mekong Water Dialogues, a project led by the IUCN and funded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Finland, have been working together in the conservation of their wetlands. During recent exchanges, Lao PDR and Cambodia found similarities in their approaches to wetlands conservation and planned an exchange workshop, in which both countries would focus on each other’s successes with wetlands conservation and the potential of applying best practices to their own conservation projects.
This workshop saw the inclusion of community members, park rangers and media personel, in addition to government officials and IUCN Lao PDR and IUCN Cambodia staff. The Cambodian Mekong Water Dialogues team invited participants to visit the Tonle Sap lake and the Prek Toal core area to speak with rangers and representatives from community fisheries and to observe Cambodia’s success with protecting its bird habitats and managing the fisheries in the area. In addition, the participants visited a handicraft center, led by the NGO Osmose, where women use locally available aquatic vegetation to produce weaving products for sale.
Speaking after the field visit, Mr. Khammay SOUKPASEUTH, head of Thopsok village in the Beung Kiat Ngong Ramsar site in Champassak province commented, “I think zoning is an important part of conservation. Wetlands benefit the most when areas are designated for humans, for wildlife and for conservation. As we head back to our respectives towns, I hope to set up dialogue with the eight villages in Beung Kiat Ngong about what we have seen here today and get them involved.”
During the second-day of the workshop, representatives from Lao PDR and Cambodia gave presentations about Ramsar governance. Lao PDR shared its work with developing a management plan for the Beung Kiat Ngong Ramsar site, in Champassak province and its experience with Ramsar governance. Each country hopes to apply the lessons learned to strengthen their own management of wetlands. For Cambodia, this is the development of a management plan using a participatory approach as applied in Lao PDR; for Lao PDR, this is modeling the success of protecting the habitats and the conservation of birds and fish.
“One of the things I found interesting was how keen the Lao delegation was. They wanted to learn from the area and were keen to ask questions and to find ways in which what they saw at Prek Toal was applicable in Beung Kiat Ngong and Xe Champhone,” pointed out Mr. Visal SUN, technical officer of Wetlands and Coastal Zones of the Cambodian Ministry of Environment, “I look forward to have a consultation meeting [with the Cambodian team] to look at the best practices and we hope to rely on the participatory approach employed by Lao PDR.
Mr. Vilavong VANNALATH, IUCN’s MWD field coordinator in Champassak province, observed, “This visit has been really helpful for the Lao participants especially for the community representatives who participated in an MWD workshop for the first time. They saw successful examples of habitat protection, community partrolling of wetlands and community patrolling and community fisheries. This experience can be replicated and adapted in the Ramsar sites in Lao PDR and IUCN will support the process.”
By Wendy Atieno
For more information, please contact:
Mr. Kimsreng Kong, Senior Programme Officer
Mr. Glemet Raphael, Water and Wetlands Programme Coordinator
Mr. Pheakdey Sorn, Water and Wetlands Coordinator
Ms. Wendy Atieno, Communication Officder