Since joining the Ramsar Convention last year, the Government of Lao PDR and its partners have stepped up implementation of the Convention and its principles of conservation and wise use of wetlands.
Lao PDR acceded to the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands of International Significance on 28 September 2010, designating two wetlands as its first Ramsar sites: the Beung Kiat Ngong Wetland in Pathoumphone District, Champassak Province, and the Xe Champhone Wetland in Champhone and Xonbuly districts, Savannakhet Province.
As part of its accession to the Ramsar Convention, the Government of Lao PDR is committed to supporting the “three pillars” of the Convention: ensuring the conservation and wise use of wetlands that it has designated as Wetlands of International Importance; including the wise use of all wetlands in national environmental planning; and consulting with other Parties about implementation of the Convention, especially in regard to transboundary wetlands, shared water systems and shared species.
In 2011, the Government of Lao PDR, IUCN, the International Union for Conservation of Nature, and other partners have focused on promoting the “three pillars” of the Convention and taking the first steps for full implementation in the country’s Ramsar sites.
Recent achievements include providing opportunities for learning and exchange to wetland managers and responsible officials. In March 2011, the IUCN Mekong Water Dialogues organized a Workshop on the Conservation and Wise Use of Wetlands in the Lower Mekong River Basin in Vientiane, including a field visit to the Koot Ting wetland in Nong Khai Province of neighboring Thailand. The overall aim was sharing experiences on best practices in wetland conservation and wise use, as well as to provide updates on the implementation of the Ramsar Convention in each of the respective countries. The workshop brought together for the first time, the Ramsar Administrative Authorities, Ramsar Site managers, relevant regional NGOs and other wetland experts from the region.
From 29 August to 2nd September 2011, the IUCN Mekong Water Dialogues organized an exchange visit between officials and community representatives from Lao PDR’s two Ramsar sites. Members of the Savannakhet Province Ramsar Committee, local authorities and journalists were welcomed by Champassak Province and Pathoumphone District to learn more about the implementation of Ramsar in Beung Kiat Ngong and exchange information about wetland management.
The IUCN Mekong Water Dialogues has also prepared baseline reports on each of Lao PDR’s Ramsar sites. These reports, published in September 2011, bring together existing information about the Beung Kiat Ngong and Xe Champhone wetlands, covering the ecology, biodiversity, land use, socio-economic development, management and conservation priorities of the two sites. The reports are important tools for raising awareness about the sites and informing decisions on future management interventions.
For more information on ongoing work in Xe Champhone and Beung Kiat Ngong wetlands, please contact Ms Charlotte Hicks at IUCN Lao PDR: [email protected] or +856-21-216401.