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Ministry hopes to reopen forests for logging

Forest officials are surveying certa in forests with the aim of asking the government to reopen woodlands after the government ordered the closure of production forests recently.

An official from the Forest Department of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, who asked not to be named, told Vientiane Times on Thursday that the assessment of the production forests in question has yet to be concluded.

Currently the forest survey is about 50 or 60 percent complete and the ministry will submit the results to the government.

It may be possible to reopen these forests in fiscal year 2016-17, to allow timber harvesting to recommence.

If the government approves the resumption of logging in production forests, trees will be felled once more. Forestry officials say that if approval is not given it may be necessary to import wood from neighbouring countries in the coming years.

“We won't touch any of the national protection forests; it is only production forests that we are suggesting be made available for logging,” the official said.

At present, there are 49 national protection forests covering 7.5 million hectares but the ministry plans to add thousands more to achieve its goal of 8.2 million hectares of protected forest.

Every year Laos requires thousands of cubic metres of wood to meet the demands of development and wood processing for export.

Forests are an important natural resource, providing enormous benefits to the national economy and the livelihoods of rural populations.

The official said production forests would be replanted or rehabilitated after the trees are felled to ensure sustainable harvests in the future.

According to the Department of Forestry Inspection, Laos is one of many countries still on the list of those where unregulated logging takes place.

The state needs to take serious action to enforce the regulations governing forestry in order to remove Laos from the list.

The EU is working with Laos to expedite the process in a bid to improve forestry and environmental protection. The government is spending several billion kip each year to save protected forestry areas.

The government plans to increase nationwide forest cover to 65 percent by 2015 and to 70 percent by 2020.

By Times Reporters
(Latest Update May 9, 2016)

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