Protection and sustainable use of forest ecosystems and biodiversity in Laos
Title: Protection and sustainable use of forest ecosystems and biodiversity (ProFEB)
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Lead executing Agency: Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF)
Overall term: 2017 to 2019
Natural resources play a central role in environmental protection and economic development in Laos. Illegal logging, poaching and large-scale land concessions for dams, mining and plantations are resulting in the loss of significant areas of woodland. This poses a major threat to the great diversity of animal and plant species that live there. The associated reduction in ecosystem services causes serious social problems and ecological damage, which affect the poorest sections of the population in particular, whose existence often depends on intact forests.
Although the state has shown a growing awareness of the need for environmental protection, until now public authorities and non-state actors have been unable to work together to improve the basic conditions for adaptation to climate change, good stewardship in the forestry sector and the sustainable management of woodland resources.
Working together, authorities and non-state actors have improved conditions for the sustainable management of forest resources and biodiversity. State institutions have thereby gained access to additional know-how, while the local population has gained greater control over the natural resources and achieved more secure living conditions.
The programme is subdivided into three components:
- ProFLEGT component
To improve governance in the forestry sector, the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH is supporting the Government of Laos in its efforts to conclude a bilateral voluntary partnership agreement (VPA) with the EU on the trade in timber products whose provenance is legally verified. The agreement sets out the legal obligations and the measures to be taken by both parties to combat illegal logging. This participatory decision-making process involves government agencies, civil society groups, the timber industry and local communities.
- GIZ-HinNamNo component
The GIZ-HinNamNo component is based on a co-management approach, the principles of which are new to Laos. This brings the authorities and local communities together in a joint effort to ensure the protection and effective management of the national HinNamNo conservation area.
In order to improve the economic situation of the local population, a number of ecotourism activities are being introduced through development partnerships with the private sector. The aim of acquiring UNESCO World Heritage Site status is intended to increase international visibility and thereby mobilise financial resources and facilitate tourism marketing.
- ProCEEd component
The environmental education component links strategic measures at national level with informative and learning processes in the provinces, districts and villages. These activities build on environmental education and information campaigns conducted mainly in the provinces of Sayabouri and Khammouane, where there are also other German-Laotian projects that focus on woodland and biodiversity conservation, as well as on climate change. One core element of the project is the provision of capacity development support in the field of environmental education and information.
The ProFLEGT component has contributed to the success so far of the VPA negotiations between the EU and the Laotian Government. Cooperation structures have been established between the ministries involved, which are used for a participatory management of the processes. The active involvement of the private sector and civil society is facilitated by the Laotian authorities. Great progress has been made with respect to the definition of legal timber.
With the assistance of the GIZ-HinNamNo component, the Lao protected areas administration has devised an integrated nature conservation and development strategy for the HinNamNo conservation area, which is based on a collaborative management approach. Lessons learned from the implementation process have been incorporated into the prime ministerial decrees on conservation area management. The Laotian Government has submitted an application to UNESCO for tentative listing.
Through environmental education and the introduction of environmental communication structures and processes in the cooperation partners, the ProCEEd component has promoted and improved reporting on environmental issues in the country. In a cooperation arrangement which is unprecedented for the country, local civil society and government agencies are jointly implementing the environmental education work.