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Increasing forest cover to 70 percent is achievable, minister says

Extending the country’s forest cover from the current 59 percent to 70 percent by 2020 is achievable because measures are in place in pursuit of this goal, the Minister of Agriculture and Forestry said this week.
Dr Lien Thikeo made the comment at a press conference on Monday, when he announced that Laos would join Cambodia, Myanmar and China’s Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region in holding activities to mark this year’s World Wood Day, which falls on March 21 (today).
“There is a possibility to increase forest cover to 70 percent as targeted,” the minister told local media.
Forest areas, including degraded forests in many parts of the country, can be reforested naturally if they are protected against further encroachment.

“We need to protect them for three years and let them [young trees] grow. They will become bigger trees,” he said, adding that this was one of the measures being employed in the regeneration of forests.
In addition, the ministry will encourage people to plant trees on the 100,000 hectares of land currently used for shifting slash-and-burn cultivation, as a better way to make a living.
Authorities in charge will encourage local and foreign private companies that own tree plantations in Laos to partner with local residents in expanding plantations, by using people’s land.
The minister said the government would also initiate a public-private partnership (PPP) scheme. Under this scheme, private entities can invest in plantations  with 30 percent of the plantation area to be given to the state for incorporation into national forests.
Dr Lien said his ministry had carried out inspections of production forests – forests where commercial logging is permitted – whose total area amounts to more than one million hectares, to identify degraded areas.
Members of the public and private investors will be encouraged to plant trees in degraded forest areas.
To reach the goal of 70 percent forest cover, it will be necessary to plant trees on 500,000 hectares and to carefully manage 6 million hectares of degraded woodland so that forests regenerate naturally, according to a report from the Forestry Department.
The ministry plans to encourage all sectors to plant trees on 20,000 hectares across the country this year.
The trees will be planted by state and private sectors as well as individuals, Director General of the Forestry Department, MrSousathXayakoummane, said.
In a move to promote more tree planting by private companies, the government is considering lifting the ban on eucalyptus plantations by revising Prime Ministerial Order No. 13, which imposed the ban in 2012.
A draft revision of the Order was tabled at a recent government monthly meeting and the cabinet agreed in principle.


By SouksakhoneVaenkeo
(Latest Update
March 21,

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