World Wetlands Day 2008 -- Thailand
WWF Greater Mekong
Thailand Country Programme
104 Outreach Building, AIT
Klong Nung, Klong Luang
Pathumthani 12120, Thailand
Tel: +662 524 6128-9
Fax: +662 524 6134
A Watershed for Conservation - WWF and Thailand Celebrate World Wetlands Day with a New Protected Site
Protecting an ecologically important marsh and the livelihoods it provides are top priorities for WWF and several governmental agencies in Nong Khai, Thailand. On February 2nd they will join together and celebrate World Wetlands Day by putting Goot Ting Marsh on the map as an internationally significant Ramsar Site.
The Ramsar Convention on Wetlands is an international treaty for cooperation in the conservation and wise use of wetlands. Recognized as the first global treaty of its type, it was signed in Ramsar, Iran, in 1971. Thailand joined in 1998 and is one of 155 countries participating in the Convention. WWF has supported and participated in Ramsar since its inception.
Thailand's Goot Ting Marsh is gaining Ramsar recognition for its high biodiversity. The site is home to more than 120 species of freshwater fish including: the endangered Giant golden barb. The World's third smallest living vertebrate, the Dwarf minnow, is native to Goot Ting.
Over 100 bird species also occupy areas around Goot Ting. An estimated 3,000 Lesser Whistling Teals and Gargeney live on its shores. Endangered species such as the Baer's Pochard, the Hen Harrier and the Western Marsh Harrier are also present.
"The Ramsar committee's acknowledgement of Goot Ting Marsh as a protected site, is proof of the marsh's value. To join Ramsar a wetland must be very important in terms of biodiversity and as a source of living for local communities," said Dr. Chavalit Vidthanyanin, WWF's Thailand's Senior Freshwater Biologist.
The area's human inhabitants have long been aware of Goot Ting's significance. Some 23,000 villagers in 40 communities live around the marsh. They and their ancestors have made a living off its bounty for centuries. Various products, such as the traditional delicacy 'Pla Ra' or fermented fish, sustain Goot Ting's people throughout the year. An official survey in 2006 found that 33,541 kilograms of fish, plus thousands of tons of shrimp and edible marine plants were collected from the marsh. In the area's three largest villages - Nong Fang Daeng, Don Ho, and Huay Kam Phaeng - most families' income derives from the marsh.
"If local villagers whose living depends on the marsh are engaged, they will help preserve and use it in a sustainable way," said Dr. Chavalit.
His philosophy is shared by the villagers. "My family and all villagers here have received direct benefits from Goot Ting for years. Almost everything the marsh provides is important to our survival. We collect water plants to eat daily. Some types of weeds are used to weave as a sleeping mat which we can sell," said Thongsoon Khamrat, a villager at Ban Non Som Boon. "To have Goot Ting announced as an important place, makes us glad and inspires us to protect it for our children."
Mr. Yanyong Sricharoen, Manager of WWF's Community Management of Wetlands in Thailand and the Mekong River Basin Project, revealed that there will be a parade event organized by private and governmental offices in the province. Students and local people who live around Goot Ting Marsh will arrange games and competitions to celebrate the marsh's Ramsar recognition. A round-table discussion about conservation between local villagers, government officials and NGOs will also take place.
"In recent years, excessive fishing and chemical use near the water have threatened Goot Ting. In response, WWF officers have sought cooperation among all stakeholders including government and private sectors involving the use of the marsh. Things are improving." said Mr. Yanyong.
Goot Ting Marsh will become the newest of 12 Ramsar sites in Thailand. Festivities will take place at Beung Karn School, with Nong Khai's governor presiding.. Nong Khai is the only province in Thailand that contains 2 Ramsar sites. The other is Khong Long Lake, which was recognized in 2001.
WWF has been working in Nong Khai Province since 2005 through its Regional Participatory Wetlands Management Project. The Project's main objective is to support local communities as they manage, preserve, and utilize the wetland's natural resources in a sustainable way.
Photos are available on this below place;
Photo credit: @WWF-Canon/ Roengchai Kongmuang
For further information contact;
Napaporn Yuberk, Assistant Marketing & Communications Manager, WWF Thailand
Tel. 02-524-6128-9 ext. 114 Mobile: 086-334-8030 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Dr. Chavalit Vidthanyanin, Senior Freshwater Biologist, WWF Thailand
Mobile: 086-640-4950 E-mail: email@example.com