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 Songkhram River Basin, Thailand
Our work in Thailand

Mekong Giant Catfish in the Songkhram Basin, Thailand

August 2006

Over recent months the Mekong Giant Catfish has been receiving vast amounts of attention from conservation groups, political leaders and the media. The fish is a creature surrounded by mystery and culture.

Click here to read a brief story about the Mekong Giant Catfish in the Songkhram Basin, Thailand

Final Workshop for Water Quality Testing in Schools Pilot Project

4-5 April 2006,
Nakhon Phanom

For the past nine months (June 2005 – February 2006), school children attending schools near the lower 170 km of the Lower Songkhram River, have been involved in regular monitoring of the river’s water quality. By using quite simple and low cost materials and methods, they have proven that water quality testing does not have to be conducted by non-local scientists using expensive equipment and sophisticated laboratories to be considered useful data.

The children, with the support of the schools, proved quite capable of measuring a suite of critical parameters across a broad length of the river, at a fraction of the cost of conventional external institution monitoring. There is also the secondary, but just as important in many ways, valuable educational and capacity-building benefit to be gained from community-based monitoring of the local environment. This benefit was apparent at the recently conducted, final workshop to summarise the results of the Water Quality Testing in Schools Pilot Project, held in Nakhon Phanom during the first week of April 2006.


Applying Local Knowledge to the Local Curriculum

4 April 2006, Nakhon Phanom

As part of the Mekong Wetlands Biodiversity Conservation and Sustainable Use Programme’s efforts to encourage wider environmental education, the Songkhram Demonstration Site has recently been coordinating with educational administrators and teachers in finding ways of integrating local knowledge gained from Tai Baan Research into the schools’ curriculums, with particular focus on wetlands, local livelihoods and participatory research methodologies. One suggestion was to formally instigate the process by hosting a workshop for local teachers to introduce some of the material and potential methods.


Thailand Hosts First National Steering Committee

13 March 2006, Bangkok

Thailand hosted its first National Steering Committee (NSC) meeting on 13 March 2006. There are approximately 20 members on the Thai NSC from various government departments and ministries, as well as some NGO representatives.

At the meeting the MWBP team consisted of the UNDP Team Leader, National Programme Director, National Programme Coordinator and Programme Co-Manager, who together provided an explanation about the programme structure and the role of the Regional Steering Committee (RSC) and the National Steering Committees.

The NSC meeting mainly focussed on the 2006 workplan which was approved by the committee. It was also decided that the Thai NSC will meet three times per year in order to fulfil their duties within the programme. The NSC is also interested in visiting the MWBP demonstration site in the Lower Songkhram River Basin, in northeast Thailand, in order to observe the work of the MWBP.

Thai Baan Network Launches New Fish Species Publication

February 2006, Thailand

Thai Baan research - meaning Villager's Research - strengthens local people’s capacity to analyse challenges and solve their own problems. As such, Thai Baan provides a platform for local people to better participate in decision-making processes and for these processes to be better informed, allowing a broader range of ideas and interests to be represented.

The Thai Baan network has also produced two informative products about the ecology, livelihoods and biodiversity of the Lower Songkhram River Basin. Follow the links to download the Thai Baan products, both available in Thai script only:

Fish Species in the Wetlands of the Lower Songkhram River Basin - Local Knowledge of the Fishers in the Lower Songkhram River Basin > GO TO PRODUCTS

Thai Baan Research on the Ecology and History of the Seasonally-Flooded Forest in the Lower Songkhram River Basin > GO TO PRODUCTS

Chiang Khong Mekong Festival

24-25 February 2006, Chiang Khong, Thailand

The Chiang Khong Mekong festival was held by and for the communities of the Chiang Khong area to celebrate and learn more about the Mekong environment and the people who inhabit it. The festival helps draw attention to the importance of Mekong biodiversity resources in this area, which includes three Thai districts as well as the Lao PDR side of the Mekong River.

The festival was organised by the Rak Chiang Khong Group (involving communities just in Chiang Khong province) and the larger Network for Natural Resource Conservation which includes three districts (Chiang Saan, Chiang Khong, and Wieng Kan). MWBP contributed financially to these groups to help them put on the festival and for their environmental work.


Thailand Celebrates World Wetlands Day
2 February 2006, Lower Songkhram River Basin

This year was the largest gathering yet for Thailand’s World Wetlands Day with about 200 people attending ranging from students and academics, to media (local and national), to heads of government agencies in Nakhon Phanom and Sakhon Nakhon, to Thai Baan research network members from other basins.

The event was also incorporated with a study tour for Thai journalists to the MWBP demonstration site of Thailand. Journalists received a tour of the site, information sessions focussing on wetlands and related issues, and opportunities to interview and talk with programme staff, wetland experts and government officials.

The activities of the day, including exhibitions, art competitions, presentations and discussions emphasised how in order to ensure sustainable livelihoods and reduce poverty in the long run it is necessary to manage the remaining wetland resources wisely and that this can best be done by strengthening the capacity of local people to manage their own resource base. The Thai Baan research clearly demonstrated how local villagers are becoming engaged in local management and planning through undertaking their own research, analysis and monitoring activities.


Floods - Observations From the Lower Songkhram River Basin
Discussion paper, January 2006

As part of the networking component of the Mekong Wetlands Biodiversity Conservation and Sustainable Use Programme (MWBP), we are very pleased to be making available our first discussion paper to selected networks and key contacts.
Through a series of discussion papers to be written throughout the duration of the programme MWBP aims to:
  • Stimulate thought and debate amongst wetlands experts
  • Share knowledge and increase knowledge about wetlands
  • Build new and strengthening exisiting networks

This first paper discussion the different perceptions and reality about flooding in the Lower Songkhram River Basin.

Download the discussion paper (PDF file) >

MWBP to Join Her Majesty Queen Sirikit Project to Develop Wetlands in the Lower Songkhram River Basin

December 2005, Lower Songkhram River Basin

After visiting the Lower Songkhram River Basin in December 2005, Her Majesty Queen Sirikit of Thailand will establish a project to assist the people living in the area to improve their livelihoods, especially in relation to the natural water patterns of flooding and recession.

The project will focus on researching the water patterns and using the outcomes to improve the livelihoods of the villagers in the Lower Songkhram River Basin. The Mekong Wetlands Biodiversity Conservation and Sustainable Use Programme (MWBP) will provide technical support and be utilised as a resource for the project.

The Chief of Agriculture in Nakhom Phanom Province views the project encouragingly. It is a major step forward in the management of wetlands, and Queen Sirikit should be commended for taking the initiative to develop the programme and highlight the importance of wetlands in the lives of many people. The project will hopefully lead to a greater understanding, and changes in the often negative perceptions of the flooding and recession water patterns, and result in positive changes to the livelihoods of the people.


A Basic Practical GIS Training Course for Wetlands Management

19 – 23 December 2005, Mahidol University, Thailand

In December 2005, during a pleasantly cool weather spell across central Thailand, a training course was held on the basics of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) for MWBP staff and partners of MWBP Thailand. The venue for the training course was the Wetland Management Research and Training Center, in the Faculty of Environment and Resource Studies of Mahidol University, Salaya Campus on the western fringes of Bangkok. The course was hosted and organised by academic staff from the Faculty of Environment and Resource Studies at Mahidol University, namely Associate Professor Dr Sansanee Choowaew, Assistant Professor Piyakarn Teartsap, Assistant Professor Prapeut Geudseub, and Ganjana Nakapagon.

Download a participant's feedback report (English) >
Download training report (Thai) >

GIS Middle Training Report (Thai)

21-25 August 2006, Kasetsart University, Thailand


Thai/Lao Lesson Exchange Visit
7-11 November 2005, Songkhram Thailand

Between 7 and 11 November 2005, the Mekong Wetlands Biodiversity Conservation and Sustainable Use Programme (MWBP) Thailand Songkhram Demonstration Site hosted learning/knowledge exchange with a large group of visitors from the Attapeu MWBP Demonstration Site.

Altogether, 27 persons joined the exchange visit, including a small contingent from the Lao National Programme Office in Vientiane and local village representatives from Attapeu province. For most of the participants it was their first trip to the Songkhram Demonstration Site and for nearly all the Lao villagers it was their first time outside of Lao PDR. Hence, it was a significant trip for everyone involved, both guests and hosts alike, for exchanging experiences between these two quite different wetland sites, joined by a common thread of being situated on major Mekong tributaries where fishing and use of wetland products are important livelihood activities for many families.


Second Water Quality Testing Pilot Project for Schools Training Workshop
4 November 2005, Lower Songkhram River Basin, Thailand Demonstration Site

Following on from the first training workshop in May 2005, the Second Water Quality Testing Pilot Project for Schools in the Lower Songkhram River Basin (LSRB) Training Workshop was held on 4 November 2005.

Ten schools are involved in the Water Quality Testing Pilot Project, all located next to or nearby the Songkhram River. On this occasion, only nine schools were able to send along five student representatives (ranging in age from 12 or 13 in Primary Year 6, to 16 or 17 years old in Secondary Year 5) and two teachers who have been supervising or monitoring the testing of water quality in the Nam Songkhram River.


Nam Songkhram Basin Fish Festival

7-9 October 2005
The Mekong Wetlands Biodiversity Conservation and Sustainable Use Programme (MWBP) joined the Nam Songkhram Basin Fish Festival on 7-9 October 2005. This annual event is the main calendar event of Sri Songkhram District and draws large crowds of people from across the district and further afield. The festival is also largely promoted by authorities and focuses on showcasing local culture, traditions and product, and featured a mix of cultural, musical and sporting events, alongside entertainment shows, food stalls and a popular fair.


Nam Songkhram River Basin Fish Festival Promotes Local Livelihoods and Wetland Conservation

7-9 October 2005, Sri Songkhram District

The annual fish festival of Sri Songkhram district, Nakhon Phanom province will take place from 7-9 October 2005. The festival, officially called “The Nam Songkhram River Basin Fish Festival”, will feature various attractions such as Thai boxing, takraw, mini-football, an Isaan folk song contest, theatre, a rare fish display contest, and the highlight giant model fish parade. Additionally, there will be displays of local products (OTOP) from each Tambon in Sri Songkhram district.

The Mekong Wetlands Biodiversity Conservation and Sustainable Use Programme (MWBP) will host an exhibition booth and organise activities to present aspects of local livelihoods and their relationship with the Nam Songkhram river and flooded forest.


Sala Phoum Technical Training Workshop

Stung Treng, Cambodia
31 May - 2 June 2005

A total of eight Mekong Wetlands Biodiversity Programme staff and six village researchers (including one from the Rasi Salai Thai Baan network) traveled by minibus overland from Sri Songkhram district to Stung Treng, Cambodia to provide basic training in local knowledge collection methodologies and techniques.

This marks the first cross-border extension of the Thai Baan research model from Thailand to a neighbouring country, and bodes well for future cooperation, networking and exchange by wetland resource user communities within the Mekong Basin.


Water Quality Testing Training for Schools

Saharat Rangsarit School , Sri Songkhram District, Nakhon Phanom

26 May 2005

This one day training course was held as the first activity in a Pilot Water Quality Testing Project for Schools in the Lower Songkhram River Basin, a new initiative to establish the present state of the Nam Songkhram river’s water quality through community participation. The project aims at raising awareness of basic water management issues, human – nature links and the importance of water quality to aquatic life, plus integrating local environmental studies into the school’s curriculum in line with national educational policy.


Communities Supermarket at Lower Songkhram River Basin

Community Organisation Development Institute website - 21 April 2005

The flooded forest in Tha-Bor village in Sri Songkhram district, Nakhon Phanom province is a natural supermarket for the local communities, and is only 2-3 kilometres from the village. Villagers regularly harvest wild vegetable, bamboo shoot, herb, fishes, and fresh water shrimp, etc. Additionally, the local people are also cultivating the rice field in this area. Villagers, aware of the importance of the flooded area, have setup the community fishery conservation area, and involved the Thai Baan research. They would like to investigate and have a better understanding about the flooded forest ecology, resource management and conservation, and sustainable use. Thai Baan views natural resources not only for this generation but also for our future generations.

FULL STORY (external web link) >

Thai Baan Research Final Report Workshop

Nakhon Phanom City and field trip to project site
20 – 21 April 2005

This two day workshop was organised in order for the results of the first phase of the Thai Baan research to be presented to interested stakeholders and project partners, both locally and nationally within Thailand and from other Lower Mekong Basin countries, including Cambodia, Lao PDR and Vietnam. It also coincided with the release of an illustrated book in Thai language, titled: “Ecology and History of the Paa Bung Paa Thaam, of the Lower Songkhram River Basin” summarizing some of main findings from the Thai Baan research.


Irrigated Agriculture Scoping Study

Lower Songkhram River Basin
27 March - 8 April 2005

An irrigated agriculture scoping study was conducted to better understand existing agricultural practices in order to make more informed plans and policies with regard to wetlands use and water management. The team consisted of three Khon Kaen University lecturers, comprising an agronomist, economist and sociologist; with many years of combined experience in participatory, field-based research


World Wetlands Day and Pilot Water Quality Testing Project Prepared
Sri Songkhram, February 2005

World Wetlands Day was celebrated on 2 February, 2005 at Ban Yang Ngoi School, Sri Songkhram, Nakhon Phanom province in Thailand. Over 500 persons attended including of local villagers, district government, officials, civil society groups, youth, students and other local stakeholders in the Lower Songkhram River Basin. The aim of the day was to increase awareness of the value of water and wetlands resources management with many activities the whole day such as art competitions, local cookery, local songs and culture, panel discussion on wetlands resources management etc.

To read the regional summary or full report of World Wetlands Day 2005,

Final Thai Baan Reporting in Chiang Khong
Chiang Khong, November 2004

On 25-28 November, 2004 Thai Baan Researcher Team was involved in Chiang Khong Thai Baan Final Reporting Workshop for exchanging experience and discussion about Thai Baan research all over the country such as Pak Mun, Rasi Salai, Salawin, Kang Ser Ten and Chiang Khong. The issues of the upper Mekong were discussed and participants took part in a one day boat trip, to see the natural environment and two days of discussion to explain the resources, problem and conclusion.

Fish Festival Days at Songkhram

Sri Songkhram, October 2004

The Songkhram Thai Baan research team presented the story of Thai Baan Research by exhibition at the Fish Festival which was held from 20 to 22 October, 2004. The festival hosted many activities that aim to increase participatation of local people in Songkhram district and local villagers. One of the more interesting activities included drawing with youth children and a cultural show from local villager . Models of floating fish gained great interest and where used to describe biodiversity in the lower Songkhram.

Thai Baan Research
Sri Songkhram, Ongoing

Local people have often found it difficult to be part of formal discussions on development planning. Consultation has frequently been superficial and only during the final stages of implementation. While they have regularly been sources of information, it is only rarely they have had any influence in designing the research processes, or contributing to analysis and decision-making. Thai Baan research - meaning Villager's Research - strengthens local people’s capacity to analyse challenges and solve their own problems. As such, Thai Baan provides a platform for local people to better participate in decision-making processes and for these processes to be better informed, allowing a broader range of ideas and interests to be represented.


The First Assessment of Herpetofauna of the Lower Songkhram Basin
11-15 September 2006

Basic Wetlands Training Report

14-18 August 2006, conducted at Wat Done Daeng, Salaprasakhom, Thabor Songkhram of Nakhonphanom, Thailand