(From the CEPF Regional Implementation Team in Indochina)
On 6th December 2009, people from Da Vi Commune, Na Hang District, gathered to share their research findings on aquatic resources in the Nang River, a tributary of the Gam River in Tuyen Quang Province. Local authorities were present to hear their concerns about upstream ecological changes since establishment of the Tuyen Quang Hydropower Dam on the Gam River.
The research team comprises local residents selected by the community based on their rich knowledge about fisheries in the area. The Center for Water Resources Conservation and Development (WARECOD) trained these local community researchers to identify and document freshwater biodiversity, funded by a Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF) grant.
In this workshop, the research team explained that they had so far documented 53 freshwater species and 14 commonly used fishing tools on this river. They also noted large areas of land flooded by the the Tuyen Quang Hydropower Dam reservoir. Previous studies supported by WARECOD showed worrying population declines downstream in 32 freshwater species and some fish spawning grounds, believed to be at least in part owing to construction of the same dam.
Representatives from Commune People's Committee and district and provincial Department of Natural Resources and Environment attended the meeting to hear the results and shared their ideas. The local researchers expressed their concerns about the continuation of destructive fishing methods like electric fishing gear on the river as well as apparently increasing dependence on aquatic resources owing to insufficient resettlement planning and funding during hydropower development. Some people who lost cultivation land during dam and reservoir construction have only been allocated enough land to build houses, and so are increasingly depending instead on fishing for their livelihoods. Meeting participants urged local authorities to increase their assistance in finding sustainable alternative livelihoods, particularly for people who have lost land, and to support more effective management of aquatic resources by enforcing existing regulations and supporting development of new, local-level regulations.
WARECOD (www.warecod.org.vn) was established in 2006 as a local nonprofit organization with a goal to promote the sustainable use of Vietnam’s water resources. They carry out field studies and awareness raising activities to improve livelihoods of river-dependent communities, encourage sustainable river use and expose harmful development projects such as poorly planned dams.
The Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund is a joint initiative of l’Agence Française de
Développement, Conservation International, the Global Environment Facility, the Government of Japan, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, and the World Bank. A fundamental goal is to ensure civil society is engaged in biodiversity conservation. CEPF has a $9.5 million five year investment plan in Indochina, with BirdLife International acting as its Regional Implementation Team. Further information is available at www.cepf.net or www.birdlifeindochina.org/cepf