LEAF leaves an impression on Lao landscapes
The Lowering Emissions in Asia’s Forests (LEAF) project, funded by USAID, has just completed closing workshops in Lao PDR, reflecting on accomplishments from the past five years. The closing meetings were held in Attapeu and Houaphan provinces, which were the two areas of implementation for this project in Laos. Other LEAF project countries also included Cambodia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, Thailand, and Vietnam over the same period.
The goal of the project was to improve forest and land use management strategies in Laos to sustainably reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and it played a small but important role in the bigger picture of REDD+ development in Laos. Laos has rich natural resources, but issues like shifting cultivation, infrastructure development, unplanned logging, and agriculture are resulting in the loss of forest resources. A major focus of the project was capacity building and supporting key partners from the Government of Laos, including the Department of Forestry (within the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry) and the Department of Forest Resource Management (within the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment).
Activities in Houaphan were focused in the Nam Xam National Biodiversity Conservation Area (NBCA), and succeeded in decreasing deforestation and forest degradation in the area and generating greater community engagement in the NBCA management. The project worked on management planning for the 70,000ha Nam Xam conservation area, participatory land use planning covering nearly 10,000ha, and village livestock improvement to reduce pressure on forests.
In Sanamxay district of Attapeu province, the project worked in collaboration with the Asian Development Bank to restore forest areas, increase incomes, and seek a balance between economic growth and conservation. 1343 hectares of forest in the district were restored, seven through enrichment planting and 1065 through natural regeneration. 3500 seedlings were provided for the enrichment planting activities.
At the close out meetings in October, participants shared some of the project’s key achievements and looked toward the future about how the positive project impacts could be sustained and further developed. Some of the positive results include 650 households more effectively managing forests and forest resources, 200 households with improved livelihoods, and 60 professors benefitting from a new climate change curriculum.