Biodiversity loss, loss of the variety of animals, plants, and their habitats, is one of the world’s most pressing crises since human life is so dependent on biodiversity.
In order to promote biodiversity conservation for use by future generation, in 1993, the United Nations developed the Convention On Biological Diversity and asked all nations to sign to make a commitment to biodiversity conservation. Lao PDR acceded to the convention in 1996. The United Nations later announced the 22nd May as International Day for Biodiversity and each year events are organized worldwide.
This year in Lao PDR, International Day of Biological Diversity celebrations were organized in Samakhixay district, Attapeu Province, a location of historical, cultural and natural environment significance in southern Lao PDR. This event was organized by the Department of Forest Resource Management (DFRM) and IUCN in parallel with a consultation workshop held in collaboration with Provincial Natural Resource Management Office on drafting a Provincial Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan.
The themes for International Day of Biological Diversity set by United Nations for 2012 were oceans /seas and coastal areas. Since Lao PDR is a land locked country, Water and Forest Resources were chosen as the themes for the 2012 Celebration in the country.
The main event was organized the morning of 1st June at Chantha Upper High School, in Samaikhixay district. National Tree Planting Day and Children’s Day were also celebrated at the same time. Central and provincial government representatives, school teachers, student and local media gathered in the school yard for the festivities. The celebration was co-chaired by Mr. Sisavanh Chanthaphaiboun, the Director General of Provincial Natural Resources and Environment Division, Mr. Sangvane Bouavong, representative of Forest Resources Management Department and Mrs. Latsamay Sylavong, the IUCN Lao Country Representative. Over 50 students, teachers and provincial government staff joined the event.
Activities included: a speech by the co-chairmen on the history of CBD implementation globally and nationally and the importance of biodiversity for socioeconomic development and environmental protection. Mr. Sisavanh Chanthaviboun mentioned that biodiversity management will be a challenge for Attapeu province since they must balance socio-economic development goals with the target of reaching 70% forest cover. The province’s rich rivers, streams and wetlands which are home to many different wild plants and aquatic species that local communities depends on for their livelihood must be protected. During event, Mrs Latsamay on behalf of IUCN Lao Country Office provided various books on biodiversity of Lao PDR to Chantha school for future use in local curriculum development.
Before closing the event, all guests and students planted some tree seedlings around school yard.
TABI/SDC provided funding for the event and IUCN Lao PDR provided background information on International Biodiversity Day and the DFRM together with Provincial Natural Resources and Environment Division were the implementing partner through the collaboration with education sector.