Khiri Travel Laos Leads Environmental Canal Clean-up
Khiri Travel Laos’ team in Vientiane got down to some serious cleaning business during our event for International Day of Biological Diversity, the first created by Mimi our newest Khiri Reach ambassador.
All Khiri Travel staff and participating partners headed out on May 22nd to Phonsavanh (north) village, Vientiane, where they planned to clear away the invasive, rapidly growing water hyacinth, which blocks the village’s canals during the annual monsoon season, causing flooding and resulting in serious damage to homes and property.
While the dedicated teams were at it, they also removed a large amount of trash that was mixed in with the floating ‘rafts’ of this invasive aquatic plant. Over 500kgs of water hyacinth were removed, along with the trash, in large bags.
All participants – including the head of the village office and residents of Phonsavanh – were taught about the importance of conserving and protecting Laos’ biodiversity, and how through good practices the community can benefit from its efforts in the long term.
Native to tropical and sub-tropical South America, water hyacinth has become a serious problem in many of Southeast Asia’s waterways, since it was introduced to the region in the late 19th century. Therefore, one of the key points addressed was how to manage this invasive free-floating perennial in an environmentally friendly way, without the use of chemicals and other destructive methods that could kill off other plants and wildlife.
One of the creative solutions that will soon be implemented through an ongoing Khiri Reach project is to teach local communities how to turn this problematic plant into slow burning briquettes. The idea is for the easy-to-make briquettes to be burned for cooking and heating needs, making it a viable alternative to cutting down native forest trees. It would also enable communities to turn this troublesome, yet plentiful weed, into a useful source of income.
When the clean up was completed, the team surprised villagers by then clearing an area to set up a local village garden to be managed by the community.