Thailand’s last untouched Mekong tributary

The Nation –

The lower Songkram River basin is the latest site in Thailand under the global spotlight as a crucial ecological resource, the WWF-Thailand said ahead of World Environment Day today.

The river basin has been nominated as a wetland of international importance (RAMSAR), intended to protect this vital freshwater source in the Northeast under WWF-Thailand’s three-year conservation project, supported by the HSBC bank as part of its five-year Global Water Programme.

This is also the first RAMSAR site in Thailand nominated as a result of the partnership between the private sector, local government and the NGO, marking it as a ground-breaking success story in conservation work. The Songkhram River basin is one of the most important yet least known rivers in Thailand’s Northeast. It is the last Mekong tributary in Thailand to boast an absence of major infrastructure blocking the water flow. This means fish can swim freely into the Songkhram River from the Mekong and use it as a spawning ground. This, in turn, replenishes the fish stocks that become a crucial food source for residents of the Mekong Region.

Once accepted by the National Environmental Board, this likely-to-be-designated RAMSAR site, the 15th in the country, will cover a 92-kilometre stretch of the Songkhram River and 34,000 rai (5,440 hectares) of basin. Over 240,000 people and 49 communities will benefit from the designation.

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