Govt widens ban on timber exports, tightens wood business
The government has announced a new ban on the export of various tree species, timber products and ornamental plants in a move to take ownership of and maximise the benefits of Laos' natural resources.
Prime Minister ThonglounSisoulith issued an order last week imposing the ban on many timber products and plants and prohibiting their export.
The listed items are logs, timber, partially-processed wood, tree roots, root balls, tree branches, dried trees and ornamental plants.
The prohibition also covers the cutting quota approved by the government previously, meaning that all forms of logs and timber must be fully processed and converted into finished products before being exported.
Previously, the government prohibited the export of logs, requiring businesses to make finished products for export.
The latest prime ministerial order also prohibits the import of wood and non-timber forest products into Laos for export to third countries.
The prime minister has ordered the continuation of a suspension on logging in production forests but asked officials in charge to accelerate the drawing up of an allocation plan for production forests and submit it to the government for consideration.
The relevant sectors were asked to carry out proper surveys on trees that will be felled within development projects such as areas where new roads will be cut through, water catchment areas for new hydropower plants, and areas where new mining projects will be developed.
The survey will be made use of when the government draws up an annual logging quota to submit to the National Assembly for approval.
MrThongloun has entrusted the relevant sectors to follow up the order closely and ensure that any logging already carried out has been done in approved areas.
Any excess to the approved logging quota and logging in non-approved areas will result in the logs being seized and those involved will be fined and penalised.
MrThongloun said the relevant government bodies must be responsible for carrying out logging to make way for infrastructure development, but project developers and contractors are not allowed to fell trees. Logging can only be done with the government's approval.
He told authorities not to use timber to finance infrastructure development.
The prime minister has instructed the Ministry of Industry and Commerce in collaboration with the relevant sectors to accelerate the improvement of operations at wood processing plants to meet acceptable standards.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry was asked to work with the Ministry of National Defence and other sectors to patrol border areas as well as inspect sawmills and furniture and wood processing plants to prevent illegal logging and the transport and trading of logs.
MrThongloun told the authorities to use tough measures to penalise those found guilty of illegal logging, trading and other related activities.
He instructed the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry and the Ministry of Industry and Commerce to work with the relevant sectors to follow up the implementation of the order and report on its progress to the government regularly.
By Times Reporters
(Latest Update May 18, 2016)