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Govt Aims to Restore Forest Cover to 70 Percent by 2020

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The government has developed a strategy to restore forest cover to 70 percent of the country’s terrain by 2020, meaning trees will need to be planted on about 8.2 million hectares of land.

Deforestation and forest degradation have denuded large areas of Laos since the 1940s when forests covered over 70 percent of the country’s land area. But cover dramatically decreased to less than 40 percent in the 1990s and there has been no change in this trend.

The situation was outlined on Friday at the Inception Meeting on Promoting Forest Landscape Restoration (FLR) in Laos.

In line with government strategy, the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) has initiated support to promote the implementation of forest and landscape restoration in Laos. This work will be implemented through the FAO Technical Cooperation Programme project Promoting Forest Landscape Restoration (FLR) in Selected Southeast Asian Countries.

The new project will build on progress made in an earlier regional Technical Cooperation Programme project Applying assisted natural regeneration for restoring forest ecosystem services in Southeast Asia, which was completed in September 2015.

The present project aims to promote the use of a FLR approach in the region through the development of practical methods, related awareness raising, capacity building, and implementation of pilot activities.

Friday’s meeting sought to raise awareness of FLR principles as a means to restore forests for policy makers, practitioners, researchers and other relevant forestry stakeholders in Laos and to introduce the FAO-Lao project for Forest and Landscape Restoration.

During the meeting, government officials from line ministries concerned, technical officials from provincial and district agriculture offices in the targeted areas, and international and local NGOs heard an overview of the regional project to restore forest cover, and an outline of the Lao government policy concerning forest landscape restoration and other related issues.

Participants were keen to learn the main global, regional and national FLR initiatives and better understand the forest landscape restoration approach and why it is being piloted in Laos.

The meeting was attended by the Deputy Director General of the Department of Forestry under the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, Mr Boualy Phameuang, FAO Representative in Laos Dr Stephen Rudgard, and other guests from line ministries and international and local NGOs.