Wildlife group extends support for National Protected Area
The Wildlife Conservation Society-Laos Programme (WCS) will continue to work closely with the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry to conserve the Nam Et-Phou Louey National Protected Area ecosystem.
Dr Christopher Holmes ( right ) prepares to sign an agreement on Nam Et-Phou Louey National Protected Area Management and Tiger Conservation Project Phase 5 with Mr Bouaphanh Phanthavong.
An agreement on the Nam Et-Phou Louey National Protected Area Management and Tiger Conservation Project Phase 5 was signed recently by WCS Country Programme Director, Dr Christopher Holmes, and the ministry's Forest Resources Management Department Deputy Director General, Mr Bouaphanh Phanthavong.
The five-year programme will run until 2021 with financial support of more than 16.2 billion kip (over US$1.9 million) from the AFD, European Union, CliPAD, and the US Fish and Wildlife Service.
Under the agreement, the project will establish model protected area management practices. The Nam Et-Phou Louey National Protected Area (project site) straddles the provinces of Huaphan, Luang Prabang and Xieng Khuang, while the project office is based in Hiem district in Huaphan province.
The project will help with community engagement, capacity development, and supporting the site management unit and natural resource protection.
The project will also improve sustainable financing for protected area management and monitoring and research.
The signing ceremony took place in Huaphan province and was witnessed by provincial Deputy Governor Mr Phanthong Phetsaysomphan, representatives from line ministries, and other invited guests.
WCS' goal in partnership with the Lao government is to conserve the Nam Et–Phou Louey National Protected Area (NEPL NPA) ecosystem and its functions as a model in Asia.
The NEPL programme contributes to the achievement of the 2016-2020 National Socio-Economic Development Plan, which identifies three supporting pillars of development – economic growth, cultural preservation, and environmental sustainability.
National Protected Areas are important to the economy, environment and culture of Laos as they protect watersheds to reduce flooding and provide clean water for drinking and irrigation and ensure food security for forest-dependent upland communities.
The NEPL NPA was established in 1993 with the purpose of conserving biodiversity and the upper watersheds of several important rivers that provide water to lowland farms and cities. The NPA represents one of the richest biodiversity areas in Laos and is internationally recognised as Laos' last remaining refuge for tigers.
Nam Et-Phou Louey provides non-timber forest products and wildlife to support the nutrition and livelihoods of 30,000 villagers throughout Huaphan, Luang Prabang and Xieng Khuang provinces, according to the WCS.
In addition, the NEPL NPA is currently providing alternative sources of income for local people from eco-tourism, which has been increasing every year.
This project's livelihood and conservation initiatives support the government policy of increasing forest cover and poverty alleviation and are expected to enhance environmental services, including food security, while at the same time help to conserve the rich biodiversity of Laos.
By Phaisythong Chandara
(Latest Update January 13, 2017)