240 pages, 100 colour & 46 b/w illustrations, 6 maps
In northern Thailand, Laos, and southern China, marginal fishing communities along the Mekong River and its tributaries are experiencing the adverse effects of changing ecosystems on their fish stocks, local economies, lifestyles, and cultural practices. Transnational mega-projects are causing great environmental degradation and endangering people's livelihoods. While depicting a stark future for less advantaged Mekong communities, The River of Life sees reasons for hope in the communities' capacity to respond to these changes. Using their knowledge and experience to cope with evolving historical realities such as erratic water levels, many local communities have devised conservation measures for fishing.
The author advocates bottom-up planning and transnational civil society alliances between local groups and regional and international organizations to bring about more balanced development and sounder natural resource management in the region. Appendixes contain an extensive inventory of fish species, habitat, conservation status, and fishing techniques.
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Yos Santasombat is professor of anthropology at Chiang Mai University, Thailand.