Vientiane Times, 28 May 2015
The government is planning to source funding of 4 billion kip a year in the hope of achieving its reforestation goal of 16.6 million hectares by 2020. The money will be used to carry out surveys and allocate forest land, promote tree planting by the public, and encourage people to participate in reforestation and forest fire prevention, Deputy Director General of the Department of Forestry, Mr Boualy Phameuang, told Vientiane Times yesterday.
“To reach our target by 2020, we require greater cooperation from businesses and international organisations and we are hoping they will contribute to reforestation efforts,” Mr Boualy said.
People in many parts of the country are poor and have limited knowledge about forest protection, while a large number of communities depend on nature for their survival. The department believes that if they can provide funding for community development, local people will cooperate by not encroaching on forest land. Anticipating people’s participation in such a scheme, the department would sign annual contracts with local authorities on forest preservation, Mr Boualy said. The initiative would help to increase forest cover by thousands of hectares a year, he added. As there has been limited government funding for forestry development in previous years, plans to extend forested areas have not met with much success.
Using the revenue obtained from timber sales, the government gives the forestry development fund 5-6 billion kip a year, but more than 10 billion kip is needed for forestry development projects, Mr Boualy said. The money in the fund is spent on mixed cropping, conservation forest protection, tree planting, forestry studies and other activities. From 2001 until the present, the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry in cooperation with other government bodies and the private sector has reforested and preserved about 7.34 million hectares, and about 2.8 million hectares between 2010 and 2015. The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry is responsible for production forests, while the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment handles conservation and protection forests. This year the government plans to reforest about 570,000 hectares of land and to encourage people around the country, including government departments and businesses, to plant 30,000 hectares of new trees. Mr Boualy was confident this figure would be surpassed as the public has become more aware of the need for wider forest cover. Reforestation and tree planting will help to expand forest cover and move closer to achieving government targets. The target for this year is for 65 percent of the country’s total land area to be forested, and 70 percent by 2020. From 2001 to 2010, forests covered about 9.5 million hectares, or 40.3 percent of the total land area. Since 2001, the government has encouraged people nationwide to plant trees on almost 500,000 hectares