Siphandone Project

Siphandone (Four Thousand Islands) in southern Laos represents a hugely important ecological area of the Mekong River. The braided channel slowly winds its way through a region that provides the highest number of fish consumed in the country and is home to the globally vulnerable Irrawaddy river dolphin (Orcaella brevirostris).
WWF-Laos works towards securing the integrity of this region by diversifying local livelihoods and building environmental awareness, improving a system of river-related monitoring activities, and developing management plans to guide sustainable long-term planning in the area.
This project is a component of a larger effort that will protect biodiversity, sustainable natural resource use, and ecological functions in the three most important wetland sites on the lower Mekong – the 50-km Siphandone in southern Laos, the 40-km Ramsar Site between Stung Treng, Cambodia and the Laos border, and the 56-km Central Section between Kratie and Stung Treng, Cambodia. Together these areas contain nearly 150 km of the most intact, biodiverse, and ecologically robust wetlands on the lower Mekong
In partnership with the Department of Livestock and Fisheries in Laos, over 30 villages are a part of, and benefit from, the Siphandone project.
These villages are key partners in the set-up and management of Fish Conservation Zones (FCZs), while they also protect the breeding areas and habitat of other aquatic animals.

Expanded livelihood opportunities and alternative sources of income are also being developed to reduce the pressure fishing would otherwise have on fish stocks. These opportunities include building up the skills to raise and vaccinate livestock, as well as planting productive crops.
Looking ahead, the WWF Siphandone project also understands the need to raise environmental awareness if future generations are to become stewards of this special environment. Schools and community groups are targeted for outreach, building support for conservation and an understanding of the project.
© Adam Oswell / WWF-Canon
A FCZ in Khong District, Champassak Province
© Adam Oswell / WWF-Canon

Fish Conservation Zones

FCZs are legally defined freshwater protected areas that help conserve aquatic biodiversity. Fishing is prohibited in FCZs and they are community-managed with the purpose of restoring fish stocks.

River Patrols

Communities are engaged in river patrols and law enforcement inside and outside of FCZs, and have the power to monitor, arrest and fine those using illegal fishing equipment and undertaking other prohibited activities to conserve the river’s biodiversity.

Green Schools

The Green Schools Programme focuses on building environmental knowledge for primary school students in five target schools. Storybooks on fish conservation, tree planting activities, and taking care of flower gardens on school grounds aims to build a care and knowledge of the environment. Three of these schools will soon be selected as ‘model schools’ as positive examples for others around Laos.
© Kelsey Hartman / WWF-Greater Mekong
Students sing environmental songs and recite folklore at Ban Loppadeekhonenoy school, Khong District
© Kelsey Hartman / WWF-Greater Mekong

Green Leaders

Poungern Phommasone, 10 years old, is one of the most enthusiastic members of the Green Team at her school. In between leading songs and playing a village leader in role-playing skits, Poungern is eager to talk about what she’s learned in her Green School classes. 

“I tell my friends and family about what we should and shouldn’t do to protect the environment,” She says, adding that, “It’s very important that we know about conservation and pass this information on to the next generation.” She says she has “learned how to keep the environment clean, how to do traditional fishing, and what types of fishing practices are illegal and why those techniques are harmful to nature.”

© Adam Oswell / WWF
Poungern Phommasone, 10 years old, is one of the most enthusiastic members of the Green Team at her school
© Adam Oswell / WWF
© Adam Oswell / WWF
Green School in Siphandone
© Adam Oswell / WWF

WWF-Laos Green Schools Article