IUCN Thailand has been working for three years to achieve national recognition of the endemic and threatened water lily crinum thaianum. Now, the tireless efforts of the team, led by Thailand Programme Manager Somsak Soonthornnawaphat, have paid off. The species has gone from oblivion to national recognition as among the 10 most rare and endangered plants and animals in Thailand that need protection and funding.
The Office of Natural Resources and Environmental Policy and Planning (ONEP) recognized the species as an endangered plant that needs better protection. ONEP declared that the water lily’s extinction can only be prevented by protecting both the species and its habitat.
In the last decade, commercial collection of the water lily for aquariums has caused a sharp decline in population and habitat range. In 2009, an even more serious threat to survival emerged - provincial authorities commenced mass scale river dredging, changing the flow patterns in many rivers with disastrous consequences for the water lily. “Dredging is one of the main threats to the water lily” confirms Somsak Soonthornnawaphat.
ONEP therefore brought the situation of the water lily into discussion at the National Biodiversity Committee and the National Wetlands Committee. Both committees agreed to encourage local authorities and government organizations to stop canal dredging in two of the provinces where the water lily is still found. The committees recommended declaring all rivers where the water lily can still be found as Environmental Protection Areas. ONEP is now processing the case as suggested by the committees.
Furthermore, the Department of Agriculture will urge the Ministry of Commerce to prohibit the export of the endangered species.
IUCN Thailand is currently processing a request to include the water lily in IUCN’s Red List at the global level.