The crackdown on the illegal production and trading of forest products, as well as the fight against the illegal trade in wildlife are to receive a major boost through a new trans-border cooperative agreement between Lao PDR and Vietnam.
The agreement is welcome news in advance of a major internationa conference on the illegal trade of wildlife to take place in Hanoi, Vietnam, on Nov 17-18.
A bilateral Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the Provincial Agriculture and Forestry Office (PAFO), Attapeu Province, Lao PDR, and the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD), Kon Tum Province, Vietnam, was signed last month by Mr. Sounthone Leuammalaysy, Deputy Director of Attapeu PAFO, and Mr. Nguyen Kim Phuong, Deputy Director of Kon Tum DARD, Kon Tum Province, Vietnam.
The main objective of the agreement is to enhance and streamline cooperation in forest management and protection starting in 2017 in order to prevent unauthorized harvesting, poaching, trading and transporting of timber, forest products and wildlife in the border provinces of Kon Tum in Vietnam and Attapeu in Laos.
“This agreement is a fundamental step to secure the Lao and Vietnam borders from the illegal trade of timber or wildlife. Collaboration within such a framework, aided by rigorous implementation, sharing and monitoring, will help both countries make huge strides in protecting their forests, and in turn their people,” said Mr. Khamseng Homdouangxay, Conservation Programme Coordinator, WWF-Laos.
On August 30th-31st 2016, a high-level delegation from the Lao PDR traveled to Danang, Vietnam to lay the groundwork for the agreement.
The Lao delegation was led by Mr. Khamphout Phandanouvong, Director General of Department of Forest Inspection (DoFI) of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF), and included PAFO directors for the provinces of Khammuan and Attapeu and Provincial Forest Inspection Division directors from six central and southern Lao provinces.
During the meeting in Danang, bilateral cooperation was reviewed by both parties who mutually acknowledged commitments to international treaties and conventions both governments have ratified, notably the implementation of timber traceability systems, fostering scientific research and knowledge sharing.
Earlier this year, Prime Minster’s Order N.15 was issued, with a clear direction on strictly banning all illegal timber activities in Laos.
This reaffirmed the will of the Lao government to crackdown on the illegal timber trade and was welcomed by authorities in Vietnam who reiterated their commitment to collaborating with Lao authorities towards successful implementation of this order.
Under the EU funded Forest Law Enforcement Governance & Trade/Voluntary Partnership Agreement Project (FLEGT-VPA), WWF Laos and Vietnam have been providing technical and financial support to the Department of Forest Inspection in Laos (DoFI) and the Vietnam Administration of Forestry (VNForest) towards the development of a legal framework for timber, and to ensure the effectiveness of trans-boundary cooperation.
“The illegal trade in wildlife and timber are complex issues and require collaborative agreements across borders,” added Mr. Nguyen Anh Quoc, Central Annamites Landscape Manager, WWF-Vietnam.
“We expect that this model of cooperation will be replicated and expanded in the near future to a number of other concerned border provinces in Lao PDR and Vietnam,” said Mr. Quoc.
Source: Lao News Agency