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Key flora and fauna saved from extinction in Thailand


Bangkok, Thailand, 03 February 2020 – UNDP Thailand has released a photo essay on the recently completed project Conserving Habitats for Globally Important Flora and Fauna in Production Landscapes.    Financed by the Global Environment Facility (GEF), the project has successfully preserved endangered flora and fauna species whilst supporting rural livelihoods in Thailand through a partnership involving the Ministry of Environment and Natural resources, the International Union for Conservation of Nature and UNDP .


Three key species in Thailand – the Eastern Sarus Crane (Antigone antigone sharpii), the Spoon-billed Sandpiper (Eurynorhynchus pygmeus), and the Water Onion (Crinum thaianum – colloquially referred to as ‘water lily’) – have been brought back from the verge of extinction through the project’s innovative approaches of merging biodiversity conservation with livelihood development and private sector engagement. As a result, the ecological status of these species has been improved and ecosystem stress has been reduced in the local communities where the project was implemented.

“We are very pleased to support Thailand in its effort to mainstream the conservation of globally important and endangered species into the management of production landscape through improving critical habitats” said Renaud Meyer, Resident Representative of UNDP in Thailand. “The project has come to an end in September 2019 and trust the results and lessons will be replicated and upscaled to other endangered species.”

The Eastern Sarus Crane, which was listed as ‘Extinct in the Wild’ in Thailand for the last 40 years, has now been upgraded to the ‘Critically Endangered’ list, following their reintroduction into three wetland complexes in Buriram province. Regarded as the world’s tallest flying bird, the crane flocks’ nest in wetland areas that have often been degraded by agriculture and land-use changes. To protect the Eastern Sarus Crane, the project worked in partnership with organic rice-growing farmers of the province who receive compensation when nests are found in their paddies. Related policies on cleaner environment are also adopted in the communities. Organic rice is then sold at higher market prices thereby contributing to improving rural livelihoods.

“The crucial task is to ensure humans and the Eastern Sarus Crane can co-exist. What we need to do is to include the crane into sustainable livelihood development”, said Nuchjaree Purchkoon, a Researcher at Zoological Park Organization and Co-ordinator of the Conserving Habitats for Globally Important Flora and Fauna in Production Landscapes Project.

With only 15-cm in size, the spoon-billed sandpipers fly thousands of miles from Siberia to Thailand’s Khok Kham salt farming community in the coastal province of Samut Sakhon for food and warmer weather. The project supports the women groups from the community to learn different salt farming techniques. Nowadays, the Khok Kham female group can earn income from selling various local salt products. Abundant food resources in salt farming land areas are also preserved for welcoming not only the spoon-billed sandpipers but other migratory birds and tourists who come visit the community.

The Thai Water Onion is a rare, endangered endemic plant that can only be found in running streams in southern provinces of Ranong and Phang Nga. It is an important element of the aquatic eco-system, providing habitat and food for many species of marine fauna. However, Water Onions are threatened by river and canal dredging, unsustainable collection, changes to river flows and soil erosion. Similar to the Eastern Sarus Crane, a habitat conservation scheme was undertaken, coupled with organic agriculture, leading to reduction in threats and damages to the natural habitat of the plant. Agritourism promotion in the communities is also simultaneously raising local incomes.

‘We cannot talk about conservation without addressing livelihoods and community development. We can effectively conserve Water Onion together with income generation improvement for the community through agrotourism’. – Amarin Prasompol, local resident of Ban Rai Nai, Tambon Nakha, Suk Samran District in Ranong.

Thanks to strong co-operation between agencies and stakeholders at all levels, the project has shown that a successful conservation effort can only be achieved effectively if both conservation and economic objectives benefiting the local communities are achieved at the same time. Balancing wildlife conservation and rural development is key to the achievement of sustainable development and a good example of how progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals is best achieved through integrated approaches.

For related photo or video, please visit: https://undp-biodiversity.exposure.co/cooperation-for-coexistence or https://www.thegef.org/project/conserving-habitats-globally-important-flora-and-fauna-production-landscapes

Contact Information: Tanyalak Thongyoojaroen, Communication and Outreach Officer


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