New report on the significance of the Xe Champhone Ramsar site (Savannakhet province, Lao PDR) and its surroundings for biodiversity conservation

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The Xe Champhone wetland in Savannakhet province, Lao PDR, was designated as a Ramsar Site in 2010 due to its importance for the conservation of the Siamese crocodile, the occurrence of specific wetlands habitats and the support it brings to local livelihoods.

Despite its importance, recent detailed biodiversity surveys on important wildlife groups in the wetland, such as birds, were missing. This scientific data is critical to assess the value of the site for conservation and to adequately plan long-term management. In addition, questions still remained on the relevance of the boundary as decided at designation.

To support dialogue on a long-term management plan and potential boundary revision, IUCN Lao PDR and the Ministry of Natural Resource and Environment of Lao PDR (MoNRE), with support from the Overseas Environmental Cooperation Center from Japan (OECC) conducted a survey in 2013 to prepare an inventory of bird and large mammal species.

Asian Openbill. Copyright Robert Tizard

Key findings of this study demonstrate that most bird species still remain under threat. Most of the globally threatened species and a rather large number of common wetland-associated bird species that should be breeding in the Xe Champhone Ramsar site, have either been extirpated or are now very scarce. Hunting still remains one of the major threats along with wetlands conversion for agriculture.

Furthermore the study identifies key wetlands habitats which were not included in the current Ramsar Site boundary and should be considered for inclusion. A proposal for a larger Ramsar Site is being discussed in this document.

This report will be disseminated among agencies and partners as a support for an objective discussion and to plan further action to sustainably protect the species remaining in the site.A similar survey is currently ongoing in the second Lao PDR Ramsar Site, Beung Kiat Ngong in Champassak province. With support from IUCN, a team of community members from Ramsar Sites and local government officials visited the Prek Toal core area and Tonle Sap Lake in Cambodia to learn about the conservation successes there.  

Lotus bed and tall sedge. Copyright Rob Timmins

For more information, please contact:
Raphael GLEMET
Water and Wetlands Coordinator, IUCN Lao PDR
Download the report here

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