On 3 May, IUCN Lao PDR organised an event in Nakai district, Khammouan province, where the Phou Hin Poun National Protected Area (NPA) is located. The event, which aimed to bring awareness to local communities about the importance and benefits of conservation, took place in Ban Yang Village’s school, and focused on inspiring communities to take ownership of their forest and conserve them for the future.
Approximately 50 students, aged six to twelve, participated in the event. Activities included a short video about the gibbons in Lao PDR, after which the teachers talked about the threats to gibbon survival, like logging and hunting. Brochures illustrating and describing different endangered species in Phou Hin Poun NPA, such as various types of hornbill and the black giant squirrel (Ratufa bicolor), were then distributed. Students made drawings of these endangered species in their natural habitat, and played games where they learned about all of the interactions in an ecosystem – among different species, and between species and their environment – and about the importance of preserving all the elements in an ecosystem through conservation.
Laura Handal, a volunteer for IUCN Lao PDR’s Biodiversity Programme and facilitator of the event, said: “It is important for students to know everything is interconnected in an ecosystem and know the importance of protecting every species.” One of the teachers also mentioned that the event had given him inspiration for educational activities on biodiversity conservation that he could use in his classroom.
This event was an excellent opportunity for students to learn about the importance of biodiversity conservation and be aware of how the interactions in any ecosystem ultimately impact human populations.