Working towards greater community control over land, forests and natural resources

Eucalyptus planting starts before approval granted

Vientiane Times, 2 Oct 2014

Boualapha Agriculture and Forestry Company has already planted some areas of eucalyptus in Hinheup district, Vientiane province prior to being given official approval. The company sent the application documents to Hinheup district and the deputy district governor endorsed the scheme requesting the officials give the request sympathetic consideration. But approval has not yet been granted. A provincial official of the National Resources and Environment Department Mr Ounheuan Keophomma told Vientiane Times on Wednesday that the company was planning to plant over 4,000 hectares with local people involved. The provincial officials are now studying the areas where the company has already planted eucalyptus and the other places where they also wish to plant.

Some 2,157 of the 4,203 hectares the company has asked for are in the Inthinkeokang mountain area which is under provincial forest conservation. Of the more than 800 hectares that the company has started growing on, much of it has been passed over to them by another company who had prior approval to plant eucalyptus on it. Mr Ounheuan said that the company can grow the tree in Kasy district if the land available in Hinheup district is not enough for their needs. The areas of reed jungle in this conservation forest will be proposed by the authorities for the company’s use, but the areas of jungle will have to be protected from damage.

Vientiane provincial authorities will look again at the land where the company is seeking to plant, company deputy director Ms Souphaivanh Thiengchansay told Vientiane Times on Wednesday. She added that officials have confirmed with the company that they will recheck the areas where the company will work with local people to plant the trees. Over 800 hectares have been growing in the province’s Hinheup district since 2012 in a cooperation between the company and local people. None of these areas are under provincial forest maintenance, she mentioned. She explained that the more than 4,000 ha that the company will plant on with the involvement of local villagers in the district is in part owned by the villagers and in some other areas is being leased annually by local people. About 20 to 30 years ago, the land that the company used to plant on may have been in a forest conservation zone but now these areas are not under forest management because some of the area has had houses built on it and some has become degraded forest or reed jungle, Ms Souphaivanh added. “We have not planted the trees in a forest conservation area,” she pointed out. The department officials in collaboration with Hinheup authorities and village authorities spent over a month to survey the areas where the Boualapha company plans to grow eucalyptus with the people in the district.

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