Research & Study

WWF is a science-based organisation that employs the most up-to-date and credible data to deliver conservation success that meets the needs of nature and people.
We draw on biology, hydrology and the social sciences to advance pioneering conservation tools and tackle the greatest threats to the integrity of single species and the ecosystems and landscapes they live within.
Perhaps WWF’s most well known science product is the Living Planet Index (LPI), a report compiled bi-annually documenting the populations of over 3,000 wild species. The LPI is an excellent communication tool to encourage policy makers and the general public to get behind the need to make better choices and preserve the natural fabric of life.
Locally too, country offices are actively engaged in scientific research to help inform their own conservation programmes, governments and communities of sustainable ways to manage natural resources.
In Laos, WWF conducts research in all of its projects. For example, in the CarBi programme, scientific expertise and advanced information management techniques pinpoint ‘hotspots’ of illegal logging and timber trade, as well as biodiversity significance.
In Nam Pouy NPA, camera trapping is utilised to monitor populations of elephant, determining the size of herds and their migratory routes.
Freshwater studies seek to monitor the health of riverine ecosystems in Siphandone and our Community Fisheries project in Bolikhamsay, Khammuan and Savannakhet, protecting fish from over-exploitation and ensuring communities have the capacity to maintain sustainably managed fisheries.
© Khamkhoun Khounboline / WWF-Laos
Setting camera traps in Nam Pouy NPA to determine the elephant population.
© Khamkhoun Khounboline / WWF-Laos
© Thomas Calame
A tree frog detected on a biodiversity survey in Xe Sap NPA.
© Thomas Calame

Pioneering Science

WWF-Laos in collaboration with French research laboratory SPYGEN, has detected the presence of Mekong giant catfish in the Mekong River using environmental DNA (eDNA) analysis. This approach examines water samples to discover what species are in a particular vicinity by identifying eDNA evidence.

In Xe Sap NPA, as part of the CarBi programme, WWF also analyses leech samples to detect mammalian DNA, helping to build a picture of what species are living in the forest. It is also hoped that such a scientific method may even one day reveal the presence of the critically endangered saola.

Environmental DNA

© WWF-Laos
Scientific research on the Mekong revealed the presence of the Mekong giant catfish, a critically endangered freshwater species.