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ADB Supports Sustainable Biodiversity Management

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The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved US$12.8 million in additional financing for the ongoing Biodiversity Conservation Corridors Project in Laos.

The grant assistance is sourced from ADB’s Strategic Climate Fund, Forest Investment Programme.

The grant agreement was signed in Vientiane yesterday, inked by Deputy Minister of Finance Ms Thipphakone Chanthavongsa and Officer-in-Charge of the ADB Lao Resident Mission Mr. Steven Schipani.

In 2012, Laos was selected as one of eight countries to pilot the Forest Investment Programme, one of several global Climate Investment Funds created to address climate change. This programme aims to pilot sustainable forest management and prepare countries to access Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) financing.

Recognising that Laos has significant forest cover and is one of the most biodiverse countries in Asia, the project supports community-driven sustainable biodiversity management in the three southern provinces of Champassak, Attapeu and Xekong, and will run from 2016-2020.

Since 2010, the project has achieved good results in these areas. First, provincial biodiversity conservation corridor regulations have been issued to establish a legal foundation for corridor management. Land use planning has been carried out in 67 villages, covering 350,000 hectares of forest, and land certificates have been issued for 70,000 hectares of forest. These actions strengthen communities’ land tenure and help underpin sustainable forest management.

Second, efforts to restore, protect and maintain biodiversity in the corridors have resulted in more than 1,000 hectares of newly-planted forest, regular forest patrols that cover 300,000 hectares and 300 kilometres of corridor demarcation.

Third, thousands of households in the corridors have improved their livelihoods, helping to reduce pressure on forest resources and contribute to poverty reduction. Village development funds are sustainably managed in 67 villages, benefiting over a thousand families. Support for community infrastructure complements conservation and livelihood support activities, with many access roads, schools, health centres and sanitation facilities planned for 2017.

Apart from environmental benefits, the additional financing targets poor and remote ethnic communities.

Some 420 additional ethnic households will benefit directly from support for more productive and sustainable agricultural systems, including agroforestry and livestock management.

Speaking at the grant signing ceremony, Mr. Schipani said it was an important milestone and the result of government and ADB efforts to secure US$12.8 million in additional financing for the ongoing Biodiversity Conservation Corridors Project.

In the project area, Attapeu and Xekong provinces stand out as hotspots of rapid deforestation and forest degradation, mainly due to swidden agriculture by local communities and large-scale forest clearing for commercial crops. In some parts of these provinces, as much as 40 percent of newly cleared areas are primary forests.

“We believe that the additional financing will help to address these threats and conserve areas with high carbon stocks. Since these are also mountainous areas which are located upstream of several hydropower reservoirs, the additional financing will generate many spillover benefits, such as soil, water, and biodiversity conservation,” Mr.Schipani said.

In conclusion, the ADB reaffirms its commitment to support the government’s overarching goal of inclusive and sustainable development, and looks forward to continued effective and efficient implementation of the Biodiversity Conservation Corridors Project.

Source: Vientiane Times