In September 2015, SNV REDD+ completed a community forest management training for target villages of the LEAF project in Sanamxay district, Attapeu province. This was a culminating activity for the USAID funded project’s work supporting rural villages in this area to restore forest areas subject to extensive deforestation. A total of 15 villagers, representing three village forest committees, and district and provincial level government officials participated in the training, which was aimed at building local communities’ long-term capacity to manage the restored forest area in the future.
During the first day of the training, participants completed classroom and field-based activities to build understanding of community forest management principles, and provide them with the necessary knowledge and skills for the practical management of their village’s forest restoration zone, previously demarcated under the LEAF project. On day two, participants were divided into their respective forestry committees to develop a plan for the implementation and monitoring of community forest management in their own villages. This involved identifying who should be involved, assigning tasks and developing an implementation and monitoring schedule.
Mr. Sithad, one of the participants and head of the Tagao Village forestry committee, said that his team would “regularly monitor the forest restoration zone and prevent any encroachment activities that could negatively impact the restoration process.” Other participants also provided their suggestions and recommendations for a village community forest management manual, which is currently being developed to guide their efforts in the future.
The training and guideline development will ensure the sustainability of the LEAF project work by equipping the target communities to effectively manage the over 1000 hectares of deforested land replanted with trees, along with the additional area set aside for natural regeneration. The forest management improvement activities under the LEAF project aim to conserve biodiversity and strengthen livelihoods in Attapeu province.
According to Mr. Simeuang, head of Sompoy Village, as a result of the project’s support, the degraded forest land are now officially under restoration. “This will result in the rehabilitation of forest cover, leading to the improved provision of ecosystem services, which will allow our community to benefit from their sustainable use of timber and non-timber forest products over the long term,” he stated.