Keywords: community-managed wetlands, freshwater, Goot Ting marshes, Thailand, Ramsar, wetland management, biodiversity, community wetland policy
Community-based wetland management at Goot Ting marshes, northeast Thailand: implications for policy and practice
Wetlands cover around 36,616 km² or 7.5% of Thailand's land area. The majority of the 42,000 wetland sites have no formalised, legal protection. This paper reports on a new wetland management approach for communities to manage a seasonally inundated wetland, Goot Ting marshes, in Nong Khai Province, northeastern Thailand. Activities undertaken under this initiative comprised participatory research on the natural resources to identify the biodiversity values and users within the wetland. The boundary and two recognised zones of the community-managed wetland were demarcated. Each zone had specific rules drawn up. Two new institutional bodies for community wetland management - at provincial and wetland level - were established for the management of Goot Ting marshes. This grass-roots initiative provides strong impetus towards a new community-based, conservation agenda for wetland management. Thailand should adopt suitable community wetland legislation and formulate community wetland policy, recognising customary rights to govern and manage wetlands.