Australian Landcare helps fish in Laos

children-planting

Enthusiastically planting trees

Lao Fish Passage project gets boost from links with Landcare

Near the tiny village of Pak Peung nestled on the banks of the mighty Mekong River in Laos, the sound of excited school childen fills the humid tropical air. They are planting trees donated by the Yea Wetland Group in Victoria, Australia. It is World Environment Day 2014 and the children are joined by local government officials, University researchers, fisheries scientists and villagers. Everyone is pitching in, planting 500 trees and grasses to stabilise the banks of the new Fish Passage, a strange looking structure of conical posts set in a concrete channel.

 

Dr Joanne Millar

Dr Joanne Millar

ILWS researcher Dr Joanne Millar has been conducting research on the socioeconomic benefits of the fish passage to villagers living around the wetland since 2011 (see project summary). During interviews with elders, Dr Millar heard about the decline in wetland habitat since the 1960s due to irrigation development, tree clearing and grazing. She mentioned the issue in passing to Mr Horrie Poussard of Australia Landcare International, and they approached the Yea Wetland Group for support. After giving a presentation to the Upper Goulburn Landcare Network in February 2014, Dr Millar facilitated the transfer of funds to Laos for the revegetation works to commence.

Fishway on the Mekong

Fishway on the Mekong

The Fish Passage allows a multitude of Mekong fish species to journey back to the Pak Peung wetland to breed and grow. Funded by ACIAR and designed by fisheries researchers from the NSW Department of Primary Industries and Lao Living Aquatic Resources Research Centre, it is the first of its kind for the Mekong region. Fish are starting to use the fish passage so their movements will be closely monitored by scientists and villagers in the coming years. Income and nutrition for villagers should also improve with more fish available for sale and home consumption.

World Environment Day 2014

World Environment Day 2014

After three hours, the job is done. Everyone sits back to view their work, enjoying a snack and some Lao formalities with presentations of certificates and words of gratitude to all, including their new landcare partners in Australia! Lets hope this is the start of more revegetation to come so that the wetland can be restored to its former glory.

 

Download a   report on Bringing back the fish: new research on fish dependent livelihoods in Southeast Asia

About ilwscsu
The Institute for Land, Water and Society is one of four Centres of Research Excellence within Charles Sturt University, Australia. Its principal focus is on integrated research which contributes to improved social and environmental sustainability in rural and regional areas.

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