The Livelihoods and Landscapes Strategy (LLS) is a global IUCN project working in 23 countries and funded by the Directorate General for International Cooperation (DGIS) of the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The LLS project in Lao PDR aims to reduce poverty by enhancing community participation and supporting the Government of Laos (GoL) to achieve national priorities.
Focusing on community level resource management with emphasis in the areas of forest governance, non-timber forest product (NTFP) management, and wetlands management, LLS Lao PDR aims to influence policy and action at the local level to achieve the global initiative’s goals to reduce poverty and protect ecosystems worldwide.
The LLS landscape is located in ChampassakProvince. This region in southern Lao PDR has a high forest coverage and low population density. A road development project, funded by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) is underway, which will connect Vietnam, Lao PDR, and Thailand to promote economic growth. However, this development project will also put extreme pressure on the surrounding forests, wetlands, and livelihoods dependent on the resources these landscapes produce. LLS Lao PDR is working to strengthen the management systems of these forests and wetlands in the face of increasing demand for products and land. Simultaneously, the project aims to significantly increase incomes of the poor population as a result of these improved land-use management and marketing systems.
LLS Lao PDR has initiated sustainable rural development and forest governance activities under its ecosystems and livelihoods approach. The current activities include Forest Law Enforcement and Governance (FLEG), NTFP management, and Bueng Kiat Ngong wetlands management.
Forest Law Enforcement and Governance
This activity aims to reduce illegal logging through Forest Law Enforcement and Governance (FLEG). IUCN Lao supports the newly established Department of Forestry Inspection (DoFI) with capacity building, information gathering, and networking initiatives to enhance their understanding of forest governance as well as their capacity in investigation-interrogation of illegal logging activities. In 2008, IUCN Lao assisted DoFI with information gathering at the provincial level on case investigations of illegal logging and wildlife trade. DoFI also attended in workshops in Vietnam, Thailand, and China, which enhanced their capacity in regional FLEG processes and international networking .IUCN Laos supported the first Interagency Meeting for Investigation-interrogation of Forestry Crime and Violation held in 2009 to discuss illegal logging issues, transboundary trade, and roles and responsibilities of various government sectors. Through its assistance to DoFI, LLS Lao supports regional engagement and cooperation in law enforcement.
Non-Tiber Forest Product (NTFP) Management
The NTFP Management activities under LLS Lao PDR work with villages in Pathoumphone district of Champassack province. The activity focuses on sustainable management of malva nut, Scaphium macropodum, a plant with medicinal properties and with the most economic importance to the villagers in this area. Due to the lack of a management system in the past, there has been a decline in malva nut stands, production, and a decrease in annual income. IUCN Lao introduced an innovative sustainable management system, which established a village group along with a harvesting permit fee and benefit sharing mechanisms to protect the natural resources. Trainings in harvesting and management were conducted in 3 events for 11 villages in the district. The management system has been implemented and maintained in these villages and has helped villagers build local ownership of their resources while furthering their understanding of the harvesting cycles of malva nut and the importance of protecting their natural resources.
Bueng Kiat Ngong Wetlands Management
The Bueng Kiat Ngong wetlands activity[CM3under LLS Lao PDR works towards achieving sustainable wetlands management, and ultimately achieving the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands status to protect this area. The wetlands cover 3,000 hectares and provide an estimated 700,000 USD annual income for local communities. Planned development projects proposed for the area threaten to drain and convert the wetland for other purposes. LLS Lao conducted a study on boundaries and the socio-economic status in 13 villages and established a District Steering Committee for the Bung Kiat Ngong wetlands. Various zones were identified and community rules for their management are currently being implemented.