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Climate Change Adaptation Project Launched to Sustain Wetlands

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A project valued at US$4.7 million was launched yesterday in Vientiane, aiming to help communities in and around the XeChamphone, and BeungKhiatNgong wetlands to adapt to the impacts of climate change.

The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment’s Department of Environmental Quality Promotion, and the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations, will jointly implement the project with funding from the Global Environment Facility (GEF) from this year until 2020.

The department’s Acting Director General, Mrໃ Lonkham Ardsanavong, announced the launch of the project, which he said had received funding authorisation from GEF.

Laos ratified the Convention on Wetlands (Ramsar Convention) in September 2010 with the XeChamphon wetland in Savannakhet province’s Champhon district and the BeungKhiatNgong wetland in Champassak province’s Pathoumphon district recognised as Ramsar sites.

Following the ratification, the National Leading Committee on Ramsar Wetland Management held a meeting in 2011, when it approved the slogan Rich Wetland, Good Ecology Service and Good Life to develop the two unique and precious sites into models of wetland management.

The XeChamphonRamsar site currently covers 12,400 ha and contains around 14 villages with a total population of about 7,000 people. It is proposed that it be expanded to cover the entire 45,000 ha of the targeted area containing about 40 villages and 20,000 people.

The boundaries of the BeungKhiatNgong target area coincide with those of the Ramsar site, covering 2,360 ha with 13 villages and 11,500 people.

Around 20 first tier villages with around 21,000 inhabitants depend most heavily on the wetlands, and are most directly involved in their management, and a further 40 second tier villages with 42,000 inhabitants are less directly involved in the management but also depend on the goods and services that they provide.

The people who live in the two wetland areas are highly exposed and vulnerable to climate change impacts, associated with expected increases in temperature, evapotranspiration, and the incidence and intensity of storms.

The new project will use an ecosystem-based adaptation approach, whereby the ability of the wetlands to buffer local people’s livelihoods against climate change impacts will be safeguarded through a combination of improved planning and governance conditions, direct investments in climate change adaptation measures.

The project will also strengthen people’s livelihoods and support climate change resilient forms of sustainable use, with a strong focus on creating lasting capacities among national stakeholders at all levels to sustain and replicate these benefits.

Speaking at the inception workshop on the project, FAO Representative Dr Stephen Rudgard said the project was modest while also significant, saying it addressed a really critical aspect of natural resources and environmental issues in Laos.

Source: Vientiane Times