Posted on 04 February 2013
Khon Kaen, February 1 2013 - On World Wetlands Day this February 2, Khon Kaen provincial authorities, supported by WWF-Thailand’s Kaeng Lawa conservation network and other related agencies, hosted an event to highlight the national importance of Kaeng Lawa wetland.
Kaeng Lawa wetland, extending over an area of 17,000 rai (27 square kilometres) in Khon Kaen province in the Chi River Basin in north-eastern Thailand, offers critical water storage, biodiversity, fisheries, animal grazing and wetland products for the livelihoods of over 15,000 villagers, serving as the major water source for the surrounding area.
Khon Kaen Provincial Administrative Organization in collaboration with 33 other agencies including WWF-Thailand, the province’s Natural Resources and Environment office and Coca-Cola foundation Thailand organized the World Wetlands Day event to raise awareness about integrated efforts in Kaeng Lawa wetland conservation.
During the opening ceremony, Khon Kaen governor, Somsak Suwansuchit, recognised the concerted, joint efforts of the public and private sector to help promote wetland conservation for sustainable development.
WWF, together with the conservation network and alliances, developed a conservation strategy for Kaeng Lawa wetland, integrated into the Khon Kaen provincial development plan. The plan aims to restore natural resources, deliver projects that support adaptation to climate change, and ensure the provincial climate change resilience efforts are reflected within the national strategic policy.
Wetlands are home to some of the richest biodiversity on Earth. They provide humans with fuel, food, recreation and employment, support an immense variety of wildlife, and protect millions of people around the world from the disastrous consequences of flooding.
Mr Somsak acknowledged that effectively managing and restoring wetlands, such as Kaeng Lawa, is vital to global climate change adaptation and mitigation efforts.
“According to a WWF study, Kaeng Lawa wetland provides habitat for 69 fish species and 106 bird species, some of which are endangered. The wetland is critical to the maintenance of local biodiversity,” said WWF-Thailand’s Chi River basin-Kaeng Lawa restoration project manager, Rattaphon Pitakthepsombat.
Pitakthepsombat added that residents in the area are calling for more concrete government policies to address climate change and its impacts on wetlands.
In 1988, Thailand designated 12 sites as Wetlands of International Importance under the Convention on Wetlands, called the Ramsar Convention. The Convention provides a framework for national action for the conservation and wise use of wetlands and their resources. The wetland’s comprehensive management plan features integrated land management and leverages local wisdom to support natural resource management and environmental conservation work at the community, local and regional level. Preservation of biodiversity in river basin areas ultimately ensures sustainable communities.
Activities held in Khon Kaen province on the World Wetlands Day include forums where activists and conservationists exchange information and expertise on forest land management, bio-fertilizer manufacturing and the future of conservation efforts. Other highlights are a cooking competition using local delicacies and fishing contests.