Raising awareness for improved management of Beung Kong Long Ramsar Wetland

04/01/2010

Visit of the “Ecoles de protection de l’eau project” in Thailand: Raising awareness for improved management of Beung Kong Long Ramsar Wetland

23 November – 3 December 2009: The Ramsar Project Officer went to visit and to assess the project activities after 1.5 years.

The project is located in the north of Thailand, close to the Laotian border, 15km west of the Mekong River. The project concerns 16 villages and 8 schools that represent about 15,000 persons. The Ramsar site is an important wetland for human services like use of aquatic plants for sewing mattresses and cooking and fishing.

There were many challenges in the area like overfishing, wildlife destruction, waste management from tourism activities and restaurants, and pollution from agriculture pesticides.

As part of the “Ecoles de protection de l’eau initiative”, financed by Danone Evian, WWF with the support of the Ramsar Convention is implementing a three-year project that started in 2008 in order to reduce risks for the Ramsar site and to develop the wise use of water.

WWF involved the local communities and authorities around the lake. They are working on raising awareness through a visitor centre and a nature trail and by working with the local schools. Children are discovering the Ramsar site through many activities that the teachers decided to include in their curriculum, such as wetland education camps and field visits, water tests, learning how to sew a mattress, and traditional fishing.

The villages are planning next year’s World Wetlands Day activities, and 2010 will be a good opportunity to talk about biodiversity and its importance. Last year, they organized a big event with water boxing and aquatic plant cooking.

With the support of the project, fishermen decided to define special protection areas inside the wetland that are preserved from any fishing and disturbance. They also delimited the Ramsar area clearly. This is a really useful tool for the community to protect the land to be bought and developed.

The farmers developed an organic fertilizer cooperation to help to reduce pesticide. After one year, they started to sell some fertilizers in the markets and hope to develop their cooperative over the next year.

One of the main outcomes of the project is the 5 year strategic management plan. This was developed in a participative way with all the stakeholders and should start to be implemented next year.

The project already developed lots of activities and the aim is now to make it sustainable, working with the communities in order that this dynamic continues once the project stops.

 -- Nathalie Rizzotti, Ramsar Project Officer

 

Secondary School in the Nature trail from the Ramsar site

Students visiting the visitor centre  and reading about Ramsar and Beung Kong Long

A woman from the organic fertilizer group explaining the process of creating organic fertilizer

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