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Strong regulatory frameworks step up safeguarding Laos’ rich biodiverse landscapes for people, nature

The Department of Forestry (DOF), Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry held a national consultation workshop on May 18 among key stakeholders working to safeguard the nation’s protected areas with the finalization of the updated Decree on Protected Areas.

As the Lao PDR continues to strive towards middle-income country status and economic recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic, the Government of Laos recognizes the importance of sustainable economic growth and the conservation of the nation’s key biodiversity areas to combat against threats resulting from rapid economic development and climate change.

The Decree on Protected Areas has been revised based on the promulgated Forestry Law in 2019 and the country’s renewed sustainable and green growth priorities and international commitments. Mr. Sousath Xayakhoummane, Director General of the Department of Forestry, praised the contribution made by all stakeholders engaged in the process of developing and finalizing the draft Decree as the context itself is very complex and sensitive, and it links to many sectors – not just forestry – which means many different decrees, laws and regulations need to be carefully considered to ensure the compliance and the highest interests of the country.

Mr. Xayakhoummane also acknowledged that the final draft Decree takes into consideration the uniqueness and characteristics of the country, while ensuring protected area management planning aligns with international standards.

This approach offers better planning and coordination across sectors and impacted communities. It also aims to empower protected area management institutions with improved authority and clearly describes the rights and obligations of guardian villages, while facilitating partnerships to sustainably finance the network of protected areas in the Lao PDR.

The revision of the Decree is supported under a partnership formed between the European Union (EU), French Agency for Development (AFD) and The Wildlife Conservation Society in a joint effort to protect the country’s unique biodiversity and sustainable use of natural resources.

The four-year “Ecosystem Conservation through Integrated Landscape Management in the Lao PDR (ECILL)” Project utilizes an integrated landscape approach and green growth model, to support improved regulatory frameworks that secure the Lao PDR’s forests, biodiversity and assist rural communities in sustainably managing their natural resources.

The project promotes co-management models where communities and local government gain increased voice and benefit, and private sector is engaged in sustainable business practice. The project covers three biodiversity-rich areas in the Lao PDR, Nam Et-Phou Louey National Park, Borikhamxay Protected Area Landscapes and the Xe Champhone Ramsar Wetland Complex in Savannakhet.

The Lao PDR is well-known for its unique and rich biodiversity. It is home to numerous endemic and threatened species, such as the clouded leopard (Pardofelis nebulosa), saola (Pseudoryx nghetinhensis), and Siamese crocodile (Crocodylus siamensis).

The Lao PDR currently has six National Parks to provide for biodiversity, conserving important habitat, ecosystem balance and building resilience to climate change.

The final consultation workshop was attended by representatives from the government sectors at national and provincial level, such as: Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, Ministry of Nature Resources and Environment, Ministry of Energy and Mines, Ministry of Planning and Investment, Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism, and Ministry of Public Works and Transport. Academia, private sector and non-governmental organizations, international development counterparts and donors also participated and contributed their knowledge and expertise to the final revised draft.

Source: Lao News Agency