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EditPhoto Title:Greater Mekong
EditPhoto Description:Southeast Asia’s longest river holds immeasurable value — and faces innumerable threats
EditImage Url:/SiteCollectionImages/ci_22007578.jpg
EditImage Description:Woman rows to a floating market in the Mekong region.
EditPhoto Credit:© Amir Jina
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In few places on Earth do so many depend on one river for so much.

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    EditImage URL:/sitecollectionimages/maps/GreaterMekong_20170823.jpg
    EditImage Description:Map of the Greater Mekong region.

    The Mekong River is the lifeblood of 300 million people across Southeast Asia — but this unique ecosystem faces collapse from overfishing, unsustainable development and poor agricultural practices.

    Conservation International is working with governments and communities from China to Cambodia to protect the forests and wetlands that feed the system, to minimize the impact of forest degradation and loss as well as dams and other water diversions, and to improve management of fisheries to ensure that the Mekong basin can continue to feed millions sustainably.

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    Why is the Greater Mekong important?

    Food We Eat

    The Greater Mekong has been called Asia’s “fish basket” and its “rice bowl.” The Mekong River produces 4.5 million metric tons (9.9 billion pounds) of fish every year, contributing about 80% of the protein consumed in the region’s households. The freshwater system is also critical for growing rice, which provides more than half of the daily caloric intake in countries across the region.

    Water We Drink

    From its source in the Tibetan Plateau to its end in Vietnam, the Mekong River is a critical source of drinking water for the millions of people who live in its watershed.

    Jobs and Prosperity

    What if you depended directly on nature to live? In the Greater Mekong, this isn’t a hypothetical question. There, some 80% of the population relies on forestry, agriculture or fishing for their livelihoods. In Laos, for example, more than two-thirds of the population is employed in the agricultural sector.

    What are the challenges in the Greater Mekong?

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    EditCircle color:fact--blue    
    EditCircle icon:icon-stump
    EditResult value:Loss
    EditResult field:of forests
    EditText:The continued loss and degradation of forests throughout the Mekong River basin has major implications for the river, for its wildlife, and for the climate. Large-scale drivers such as agricultural expansion and small-scale drivers such as fuelwood gathering and illegal logging are slowly eroding the region’s forests — and the countless benefits that they provide to people.


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    EditCircle icon:icon-dam
    EditResult value:Dams
    EditResult field:
    EditText:More than 100 dams are planned or under development along the Mekong River and its tributaries. Dams bring energy to underserved communities — but poorly planned and operated dams can also harm the health of the river, reducing water flows and water quality, and putting wildlife and people’s livelihoods at risk.


    EditCircle color:fact--blue    
    EditCircle icon:icon-fish
    EditResult value:Poor
    EditResult field:fisheries management
    EditText:The Mekong is one of the richest sources of freshwater fish in the world – yet overfishing — including the use of destructive and illegal fishing gear, destruction of natural fish nurseries and other poor management practices — are widespread. This has decreased average fish size and diversity, threatening the livelihoods and nutritional base of millions.
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    CI’s solu​tions

    Conservation International (CI) has worked across the Greater Mekong region since 2001, helping to protect nature and the benefits it provides: food, safe drinking water, renewable energy and sustainable livelihoods. Through protected area management, community engagement and long-term financing, we work to ensure that the watershed’s mountains and forests can continue to safeguard the water that supports life downstream.​​​​

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    EditImage URL:/SiteCollectionImages/ci_94491816.jpg
    EditImage Alt Text:Anlung Reang floating village on Tonle Sap Lake, Cambodia. © Kristin Harrison and Jeremy Ginsberg
    EditCaption Title:Tonle Sap Lake: Conserving Cambodia’s Fish Factory
    EditCaption Description:CI is working to ensure that Cambodia’s Tonle Sap Lake and its floodplains remain a healthy, naturally functioning freshwater ecosystem. We focus on improving the well-being and economic resilience of the “floating villages” atop the lake — ensuring that they have access to safe drinking water, renewable energy and diverse ways to make a living.
    EditRead More Text:Read More
    EditRead More Link:/projects/Pages/tonle-sap-lake-conserving-cambodia-fish-factory-mekong.aspx[Optional]
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    EditImage URL:/SiteCollectionImages/ci_14779778.jpg
    EditImage Alt Text:Areng River, Cardamom Mountains, Cambodia. © Conservation International/photo by David Emmett
    EditCaption Title:Cambodia’s Central Mountains National Park
    EditCaption Description:Cambodia’s forests cover nearly 40 percent of the country and are vital for the local communities that rely on them for food and livelihoods. But poor enforcement of laws against deforestation is leading to the rapid loss of these forests. CI is working to restore and protect Cambodia’s rich forest habitats.
    EditRead More Text:Read More
    EditRead More Link:/projects/pages/cambodia-central-cardamom-protected-forest.aspx[Optional]
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    EditImage URL:/SiteCollectionImages/ci_69712966.jpg
    EditImage Alt Text:Northern buff cheeked gibbon, Veun Sai Conservation Area, Cambodia
    EditCaption Title:Ecotourism benefits people and nature in Cambodia’s Veun Sai forest
    EditCaption Description:CI supports ecotourism, primate research and ranger training in Southeast Asia’s last pristine forest.
    EditRead More Text:Read More
    EditRead More Link:/projects/Pages/protecting-cambodias-forests.aspx[Optional]
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    ​​Call to Action Single Centered (Button) ​v2​

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    EditCTA Style:StyleBlueBlue
    EditTitle Style:ProximaNovaECProxima Nova Extra Condensed
    EditTitle:WHAT CAN YOU DO?
    EditText:Make a difference for people in the Mekong Basin by helping to protect its globally important ecosystems, including Tonle Sap Lake.
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    EditDisplay Charity Logos?falseFalse
    EditButton Text:Donate now
    EditButton Link:
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    You can also help if you...

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    Video Section

    EditSection Title:Watch
    EditSection subtitle:Meet Sophy, a woman in the Mekong whose family has benefitted from learning sustainable fishing and smart business practices.
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    EditVideo image alt text:Video: Improving Lives in Tonle Sap Lake, Cambodia.
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    Button Section

    EditSection Title:Travel sustainably
    EditSection subtitle:Tourism is a major economic driver for the Greater Mekong — and there are steps you can take to make sure your travel has a positive impact.
    EditButton link:/pages/what-you-can-do-tips.aspx#travel-sustainably
    EditButton text:Learn more
    EditBackground image:/SiteCollectionImages/ci_44083317.jpg
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    ​CTA Centered Single (Email)

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    EditCTA Style:StyleWhiteWhite
      EditTitle Style:ProximaNovaECProxima Nova Extra Condensed
      EditTitle:KEEP IN TOUCH
      EditText:Get the latest updates on CI’s work in the Greater Mekong — and on the rest of our conservation efforts — delivered to your inbox.
      EditField Placeholder: Email AddressEmail Address
      EditField Placeholder: Name[Optional - Leave empty remove this field]
      EditField Required: NamefalseFalse
      EditButton Text:Sign up
      EditThank you message:Thanks for joining the CI community!

      More of Our Work Links

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      First Image

      EditImage Alt Text:Woman harvests eggplant. © Benjamin Drummond

      Second Image

      EditTitle:Fresh water
      EditImage Alt Text:Udzungwa National Park provides the communities that surround it with clean drinking water. © Benjamin Drummond

      Third Image

      EditImage Alt Text:Fisherman cast a net to catch fish. © Keith A. Ellenbogen
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