On Monday April 10th, 2023, the Department of Water Resources, Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment held the meeting on Approval of the Xe Champhone Ramsar Management Plan under the co-chairmanship of Mr. Chanthaneth Boualapha, Vice Minister of Natural Resources and Environment and Mrs. Lingkham Sengtavanh, Vice Governor of Savannakhet Province with relevant participants from local level and INGOs including Provincial of Natural Resources and Environment; Provincial of Agriculture and Forestry; Provincial of Information, Culture and Tourism; Provincial of Education and Sport; District Governor, District of Agriculture and Forestry Office, District of Natural Resources and Environment Office from Champhone, Songkhone, Sonnabouly district; WCS; IUCN; and FAO to witness in the signing ceremony of the Xe Champhone Ramsar Management Plan at Savannakhet Province Governor’s Office.
Xe Champhone Wetlands, located in Savannakhet Province, is the largest of Lao PDR’s two Ramsar sites and contains core habitats of critically endangered Siamese Crocodile, freshwater turtles and tortoises, wetland birds, and other plant and aquatic species which led to the site being declared a “Wetland of International Importance” under the Ramsar Convention. Xe Champhone Ramsar Management Plan was developed with the aim of strengthening the understanding and mutual agreement between those involved in the wetland management, to create an integrated framework for the management and development of the wetlands, and to improve the quality of community’s livelihood while ensuing the richness of the ecological system of wetlands in accordance with the national and local economic development plan and the Ramsar Convention.
During the meeting, the Department of Water Resources reported on the steps made to create the management plan, then presented the draft Xe Champhone Ramsar Management Plan and the draft decree on wetlands. Xe Champhone Ramsar boundary extension proposed plan was presented by WCS. Representatives from the relevant parties emphasized the importance of boundary marking being made priority and the need to raise public awareness to recognize the significance of Ramsar wetlands area. Key protection issues were also addressed including the delineation for control use zone versus total protect zone, monitoring the quality and quantity of water; detailed plan to improve community's livelihoods, with a special focus on land use plan in order to prevent encroachment in Xe Champhone Wetlands and the amount of water in the basin area of Xe Champhone Wetlands.
The following day, 11 April 2023, WCS staff from Savannakhet Landscape Program led a team from the Department of Water Resources, MONRE; PoNRE and DoNRE to visit the Xe Champhone Ramsar Wetlands and Siamese crocodile head-starting facility at Ban Tansoum, Champhone district. WCS’s Lao PDR Program together with Provincial of Agriculture and Forestry, Provincial of Natural resources and Environment, and local administration authorities, designed and implemented the Community-based Crocodile Recovery and Livelihood Improvement Project, whose goal is the recovery of the local Siamese crocodile population and restoration of associated wetlands, linked by socio-economic incentives that improve local livelihoods.
This project was made possible thorough funding by the Agence Française de Développement (AFD), the European Union (EU) Ecosystem Conservation through Integrated Landscape Management in Lao PDR "ECILL" Project. The ECILL program is a partnership between Agence Française de Développement (AFD), the European Union (EU) and the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) in joint efforts with the Lao government and local communities to protect the Lao PDR’s unique biodiversity and sustainable use of natural resources.