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

Govt mulls future of Lao uplands

Vientiane Times, May 4th 2018 (Referred to LaoFab)

The government is assessing possible policies for the development of the country’s upland areas, which were discussed at meeting hosted by the National Agriculture and Forestry Research Institute (NAFRI) on Monday.
The meeting considered alternative futures for upland areas, such as whether they should be multi-function or mono-function.
Participants discussed various policy initiatives, land based investment, interaction of traditional agricultural systems, and the implications for multifunction landscapes.
The meeting brought together development partners, planners, practitioners, civil society organisations and academics.
They employed scenario planning to better understand the critical uncertainties in the future trajectories of Lao upland development and identify the different strategies which could potentially be used to help deal with these uncertainties.
The identification of a number of scenarios and strategies for addressing critical uncertainties should help government and donor planners to develop more realistic strategies which are adaptive and can respond to the dynamic changes taking place in upland areas.
The need to seek a more sustainable future for the uplands is clear and central to the government’s national development priorities.
However, there are a number of critical uncertainties that also hinder the adoption of strategies for mitigating the negative impacts of development.
At a previous uplands conference held in March, the session on “alternative future in the Lao uplands” explored some of the current macro trends in uplands development.
Some of the key issues identified included green growth in the agriculture sector with a focus on innovation and inclusiveness.
Competing visions for uplands development, namely green agriculture versus industrial, are still very much present.
Mining, hydropower and investments in industrial agriculture were shown to be the largest contributors to environmental or landscape degradation. In addition, it was found that domestic investment is on the rise, said NAFRI Deputy Director, Dr Chansamone Phongoudome.
Results from studies show that uplands fallow land still provides the majority of upland communities with their main source of income and food security, he said.
Despite this, upland policies such as forest zoning and restrictions to communal land were shown to constrain upland livelihoods.

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