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 Background to the review

objectives -- approach -- final outcome -- timetable

Cambodia, Lao PDR, Thailand and Vietnam have an extraordinary reservoir of natural resources. These resources are critical to regional and national socio-economic development through their direct economic benefits and a wide variety of natural services that are often taken for granted. During the past ten years unprecedented attention has been given to establishing and extending protected areas, which now cover more than 13% of the region. Investment in these areas has also increased. However, paradoxically the natural resources they contain are degrading more rapidly than ever along with the services that they provide.

Key issues and trends in the lower Mekong River region. This presentation describes the grounds for the review in greater detail.



The Objectives

This review drew together protected area managers and economic planners to analyse current approaches to protected area management and investigate ways to integrate them more effectively for socio-economic development. The main questions asked were:

  • How effective has protected area management been in meeting both socio-economic and nature conservation needs?
  • What are the lessons to be learnt from the past ten years experience and how do they relate to global trends in protected area management?
  • How can processes and institutional arrangements for economic planning and nature conservation be integrated, nationally and locally?
  • What practical steps can be taken to improve the contribution of protected areas to national and regional economic development?


The Approach

The review worked through a partnership of national and international organisations, both governmental and non-governmental. Government departments in each country carried the review through with technical support from international organisations. National and regional networks of protected area managers and economic planners were also involved to provide information, ideas and strategies.

Initially reviews were undertaken in each country. Papers were prepared describing the lessons learned and key themes of national importance. While field studies in selected regions examined the issues on a local scale.

The papers and field reports were distributed to the national networks, to stimulate discussion and elicit contributions from the network members, many of whom convened national round table discussions in each country.

The syntheses of ideas and experiences from this process were documented in national reports, which make concrete recommendations for establishing closer ties between protected area management and socio-economic development.

Each national report and the issues and lessons arising from the national reviews were presented at a regional forum. Representatives from the four countries met in regional workshops, organised by the Mekong River Commission, to exchange views and define regional approaches to shared problems.


The World Parks Congress

The process culminated in the presentation of national and regional reports at the World Parks Congress in Durban, South Africa, in September 2003 by national representatives of the four countries.

Through the review, the opportunities and needs to manage protected areas for the benefit of local and national socio-economic development should be better understood.





July - August 2001


Review initiation

3-11 September


Review planning meeting


Vietnam consultation programme

12-18 September


Interview program

14 September


First national round table

19-23 September


Field study to Thua Thien Hue province


Thailand consultation programme

9-11 October


Interview program

13-17 October


Field study to Rayong and Chantaburi Provinces

18 October


First national round table


Cambodia consultation programme

22-27 October


Interview program

25 October


First national round table

29 October - 3 November


Field study mission to the South West cluster



Lao PDR consultation programme

5-9 November


Interview program

12 November


First national round table

14-17 November


Field study mission




January - April


2 field study missions in each country


6/7 May


First regional workshop


National round tables

22 May


Vietnam second national round table

14 June


Lao PDR second national round table

5 August


Thailand second national round table


17/18 October


Second regional workshop




29 January


Cambodia second national round table


Final rounds of consulation for PAD review reports


8-17 September


World Parks Congress




Launch of PAD Reports

22 March


Hanoi launch of Vietnam National Report

10 June


Phnom Penh launch of Cambodia National Report