WWF launches first-ever book on Mekong rattan species



Posted on 13 February 2014  | 
The Rattan Book and products displayed at the launching ceremony - Feb 2014
© TEP Asnarith / WWF-CambodiaEnlarge
Phnom Penh, Cambodia – A new book, released today by WWF and The New York Botanical Garden, provides the most up-to-date, comprehensive catalogue of 65 rattan species found in Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam – two of which are new species endemic to Cambodia.

Systematics, Ecology and Management of Rattans in Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam – The Biological Bases of Sustainable Use is the result of eight years of research and includes a review of management protocols that are guiding sustainable management and use of rattans across the three countries.

“We are delighted to launch this book, which clearly demonstrates that sustainable rattan management, production and trade is the only way to ensure the Mekong rattan industry will continue and thrive into the future,” said Chhith Sam Ath, WWF-Cambodia’s Country Director. “We urge Greater Mekong governments to use this resource as they urgently develop and implement rattan management plans.”

Rattan is one of the most important non-timber forest products in the Greater Mekong as various species support local livelihoods as food, material for shelters, and products with export value. However, forest conversion and unsustainable harvesting are leading to serious declines in rattan stocks, threatening the potential growth and sustainability of the region’s rattan industry.

“Local communities in Siem Reap and the Tonle Sap region are using the rattan species, Lpeak (C. salicifolius), to produce high quality baskets and handicrafts that are exported to Thailand and other international markets,” said Chhith. “This unique species is only found in Cambodia and is therefore critical to our country’s biodiversity and the future of our rattan industry.”

The book, which is available in English, Khmer, Vietnamese and Lao language versions, aims to help both naturalists and those in the rattan industry in identifying rattan species, while providing guidance in maximizing yields and achieving sustainable production of rattan resources. The book also shares  lessons learnt from sustainable management planning to processing and export policies.

“This book represents the most comprehensive analysis of rattans ever compiled anywhere in the world,” said co-author Dr. Charles M. Peters, Curator of Botany with The New York Botanical Garden and a leading authority on the management of tropical forests. “It is unique in that this single volume addresses the ecological, taxonomic, and silvicultural aspects of a valuable forest resource. Most importantly, we want people to understand that you can’t sustainably harvest more than the annual growth of rattan from a forest in one year.”

Joining Dr. Peters as co-author is Andrew J. Henderson, Ph.D., Abess Curator of Palms at the Botanical Garden, a leading authority on the systematics, taxonomy and biology of palms, which include rattans. As part of his field research on this project, he discovered and named the two Cambodian rattan species new to science.

The book is the result of a collaboration between The New York Botanical Garden and WWF-Greater Mekong, together with relevant government and development partners. This collaboration has resulted in the world’s first FSC-certified rattan products in Laos and has facilitated the establishment of the Rattan Association of Cambodia and the Vietnam Rattan Programme – important mechanisms for ensuring that producers also secure benefits from the growing demand for sustainable rattan products.

“With support from WWF, I am engaged in rattan forest management, harvest and sell FSC-certified rattan at a high price,” said Jai Singsombath, head of the weaving group in Thaveng Village in Bolikhamxay province, Laos. “More importantly, I am, together with other villagers, engaged in processing and weaving to improve our lives, with an average income of USD150 per month during production period.”

WWF and our partner’s achievements in supporting the development of a sustainable rattan industry in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia, and the new rattan book, were made possible thanks to the financial support from IKEA, the European Commission’s SWITCH-Asia Programme, and DEG - Germany’s Entrepreneurial Development Cooperation.
The Rattan Book and products displayed at the launching ceremony - Feb 2014
© TEP Asnarith / WWF-Cambodia Enlarge

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