To push through the Padma River Project without harming the environment specifically the Padma River, the Ministry of Road Transport and Bridges, Government of Bangladesh commissioned the Asian Institute of Developmental Studies, Inc. (AIDSI) together with Sodev Consult International, Ltd., to prepare a Study Tour Program on the Management of Protected Areas in Wetlands in Cambodia and the Philippines for the Senior Officials of the ministry. A study program was conducted last March 01 to 09, 2016 for eleven (11) officials from the Ministry of Road Transport and Bridges, Bangladesh headed by Mr. Md. Majibur Rahman.
The visit in Cambodia involved the Cambodian Mekong Dolphin Conservation Project (CMDCP), a collaborative effort between WWF, the Cambodian Rural Development Team (CRDT) and the Fisheries Administration that addresses the urgent need to conserve the Mekong Dolphin by implementing the government’s Cambodian Mekong Dolphin Conservation Strategy, the Ecotourism in Koh Preah of Strung Treng Province that encourage the farmers to diversify their income streams, through involvement in a range of livelihood activities and even introducing ecotourism to a few picturesque villages – which gives a cash incentive for conserving the environment, and Le Tonlé Tourism Training Center, a not-for-profit training guest house providing vocational training to disadvantaged youth from Cambodia’s north-eastern provinces of Kratie, Stung Treng, Ratanakiri, and Mondulkiri.
As for the Philippines, the group flew to Palawan and visited the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park (a UNESCO World Heritage Site & New 7 Wonders of Nature), Palawan Wildlife Rescue and Conservation Center (a crocodile farm), and Snake Island (government declared protected area for its marine and avifaunal biodiversity). They also met the officials from the Palawan Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office (PENRO) and the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development (PCSD).
Visiting these places gave the participants a good grasp of the importance of institutional mechanisms (policies, programs, and organizations) in protected area management. The study tour provided opportunities for the Bangladeshi participants to gain and exchange knowledge and skills and efforts on protected area management in Cambodia and in the Philippines.