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

Laos intends to use the VPA process for forestry development

Vientiane Times, July 27, 2015.

Laos is enhancing its efforts to implement the Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade, Voluntary Partnership Agreement (FLEGT-VAP) as it seeks to further the development of the forestry sector. With support from Germany´s Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ) and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), the Department of Forestry Inspection under the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry held an introduction workshop on the forestry legal compendium in Vientiane last week.

The workshop was attended by officials from the relevant government organisations alongside representatives from international and civil organisations concerned with forest law and governance. Laos began the implementation of the development process of FLEGT-VAP in 2010 with the Department of Forestry Inspection as coordinator in cooperation with the relevant sectors of the ministries of Agriculture and Forestry, Industry and Commerce, Natural Resources and Environment as well as civil society organisations.

“In previous years, we have studied basic information about the background of timber and created an action plan to implement FLEGT-VAP in Laos in order to prepare the VPA between Laos and Europe in the future,” Director General of the Forestry Inspection Department, Mr Khamphout Phandanouvong said at the opening of the workshop. It is necessary for Laos to pursue FLEGT-VAP implementation in line with the government policy, Mr Khamphout added. He believed that the workshop is very important and that the stakeholders and relevant sectors will understand and participate in the consultation forestry legal compendium of the government related to FLEGT-VAP. The Government of Laos plans to improve the forestry sector by reducing the export of raw logs and primary wood products from natural forests and increasing intensively managed plantations of industrial tree crops.

The government is now revising major laws, including the National Land Policy and the Forestry Law. By entering into a VPA with the EU, Laos aims to improve opportunities for the Lao timber industry to access the EU market, diversify their timber products and increase revenue from timber exports. The government hopes to increase the portion of skilled jobs with higher wages and to develop opportunities for technology transfer to the Lao timber industry. Laos also aspires to help ensure the sustainable development of the forest sector, stop illegal logging, raise awareness of the benefits of timber legality in the country, enhance transparency and good governance and strengthen existing timber management policies. The Government of Laos announced its interest in negotiating a VPA in 2012. In 2013 the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry opened a Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade Standing Office.

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