The context of REDD+ in the Lao People’s Democratic Republic: Drivers, agents and institutions

Type Report
Title The context of REDD+ in the Lao People’s Democratic Republic: Drivers, agents and institutions
Volume 92
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2013
Publisher CIFOR
This report on the context of REDD+ in the Lao
People’s Democratic Republic is a contribution
by the EU-funded project “Impacts of Reducing
Emissions from Deforestation and Forest
Degradation and Enhancing Carbon Stocks
(I-REDD+)” to Component 1 of the Global
Comparative Study on REDD+ conducted by
the Center for International Forestry Research
(Brockhaus and Di Gregorio 2012). The aim is
to provide an overview and analysis of the drivers
of deforestation and forest degradation (both
direct and indirect), institutional arrangements for
the forestry sector in general and for REDD+ in
particular, the political economy underlying the
drivers of deforestation and forest degradation,
and the existing legal frameworks for REDD+ and
their implications for achieving effective, efficient
and equitable outcomes from REDD+ in Laos
(Brockhaus et al. 2012).
Laos is receiving considerable international
attention and support to implement REDD+.
Forest covers more than 40% of the country’s
total land area (9,500,000 ha), although this has
followed a fairly consistent forest loss of about
0.7% a year since 1982. The main direct drivers of
deforestation are agricultural expansion — by both
individual farmers and large-scale agribusinesses —
and the development of industrial tree plantations
and large hydropower, mining and infrastructure
projects. Shifting cultivation and selective logging
are blamed for forest degradation. The indirect
drivers of deforestation and forest degradation
are rooted in the national agenda for economic
growth. With investors from neighboring countries
such as Vietnam, Thailand and China keen to
gain access to the country’s land and natural
resources, the government of Laos has sought to
encourage private investment in hydropower,
mining, agriculture and forestry as a way of
boosting the national economy. As a result, with
private investors providing the financial, technical
and human resources that the country needs for
rural development, Laos is becoming an important
resource frontier for transnational capital and
large-scale land and natural resource investments.
The consequent intensification of competition
over resources poses a challenge not only for
forest governance, but also for the development of
REDD+ policies and initiatives in Laos.
The government of Laos has long sought to curb
deforestation and forest degradation. The main
approach for doing so, as identified in Laos’
Readiness Preparation Proposal for REDD+
(R-PP) submitted to the World Bank’s Forest
Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF), consists
of a combination of law enforcement, land-use
planning and farm extension activities. Several
policies and programs have also been introduced
with the aim of strengthening land and forest
governance. A nationwide program of land-use
planning and land allocation was initiated in
the early 1990s with the aim of clarifying village
boundaries, regulating local access to land and
forest resources, and limiting shifting cultivation.
Since the 1990s, the government has marked out
some 12.5 million ha (more than 50% of the
national territory) as state conservation, production
and protection forests.

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