Wetland conservation activities continue in Plain of Reeds

07 March 2007 | News story

In Viet Nam, 15 million people - many of whom rely on wetland resources for their livelihoods - live in the Mekong River Delta, which covers territory in Viet Nam and Cambodia. The Delta’s wetland, grassland, and river habitats support globally significant ecosystems and biodiversity, including the rare Mekong Giant Catfish and the Irrawaddy Dolphin.

To support the conservation and sustainable use of wetland biodiversity in this important area, in 2004 IUCN partnered with the United Nations Development Programme and the Mekong River Commission to create the Mekong Wetlands Biodiversity Conservation and Sustainable Use Programme (MWBP), a regional programme involving the four lower Mekong countries.  The MWBP was supported by the Global Environment Fund and other donors, and worked with focal government agencies in each country.  In Viet Nam, MWBP’s site-level activities took place in Dong Thap and Long An provinces, where some of the last natural habitat remains from what was once the 13,000 km2 Plain of Reeds wetlands.

Since 2004, the Programme has succeeded in improving wetlands management, raising awareness of wetlands management issues, and tracking important data through systematic research.  The MWBP also assisted in the recovery of 2,371 ha2 of grassland habitat in Tram Chim National Park during implementation of the Programme’s Interim Water and Fire Management Strategy.  As a result of the MWBP, wetlands management capacity of local authorities in the Plain of Reeds has been strengthened and local people have been provided with support in developing alternative livelihoods.  

“The Mekong Delta’s wetland habitat and ecosystems are irreplaceable.  They contain many important and threatened elements of biodiversity, and they support the natural resource-based livelihoods of millions of rural people,” said IUCN Viet Nam Programme Coordinator Bernard O’Callaghan.

In 2007, IUCN’s work to conserve Plain of Reeds wetlands habitat in Viet Nam - which consists mainly of grasslands, lotus swamps, and inundated forests - will build on the achievements of the MWBP.  IUCN Viet Nam staff will assist local authorities in monitoring the effects of the Interim Fire and Water Management Strategy, which may be installed as a permanent management plan for Tram Chim National Park.  At this time, additional support will be provided by WWF and the International Crane Foundation that will seek to link conservation activities in the area with other initiatives. The National Wetlands Support Programme, funded by the Dutch Embassy in Hanoi, committed to supporting wetland work in Viet Nam in the future.

The Government of Viet Nam has also committed to continuing their support of wetlands conservation.  During the final meeting of the National Steering Committee of the Viet Nam component of the MWBP, Dr. Pham Khoi Nguyen, Vice Minister, MONRE, pledged to allocate a portion of the national government’s environment budget specifically for wetlands work at the national and provincial levels.

Visit http://www.mekongwetlands.org/ to learn about the MWBP’s activities.  For more information, contact Mr. Ly Minh Dang, Wetlands and Water Resources Programme Manager, at dang@iucn.org.vn or call +(84) 4 726-1575 ext. 143.