Working towards greater community control over land, forests and natural resources
(ກຸ່ມເຮັດວຽກກ່ຽ່ວກັບບັນຫາການນຳໃຊ້ທີ່ດິນ) ແນ່ໃສ່ສົ່ງເສີ່ມ ຄວາມເຂົ້າໃຈ ແລະຄວາມຮູ້ທ່ວງທັນ ໃນດ້ານ ເສດຖະກິດສັງຄົມ ສິງແວດລອມ ທີ່ກ່ຽວຂອງກັບການນຳໃຊ້ເນື້ອທີ່ດິນ ໃນໂຄງການ ຕ່າງໆ, ໂດຍການເກັບກຳ ແລະ ແຜ່ກະຈາຍ ຂໍ້ມູນ ຂ່າວສານ, ການຊຸກຍູ້ການສົນທະນາປຶກສາຫາລື ແລະ ການຄົ້ນຄວ້າວິໃຈ

*Forest protection vital for carbon control*

Vientiane Times, 16 December 2014

As the climate changes, many countries around the world have had to take on greater responsibility for forest protection and management.
Laos is one of the countries working hard on forestry conservation.
The Forestry Department last week held a Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF) meeting in Vientiane to encourage the relevant sectors to participate in forest protection. The meeting was chaired by the department Deputy Director General, Mr Khamphay Manivong. The government has established targets for reafforestation set at 65 percent of cover by 2015 and 70 percent by 2020 but it faces severe challenges to reach these targets due to an increasing population and rapid development. Forests are referred to as carbon sinks as they absorb carbon dioxide from and release oxygen into the atmosphere, according to the World Bank’s senior Forestry Specialist, Mr Robert R. Davis.
Every decade since the 1960s global temperatures have been rising, 2012 was the warmest year in recorded history, he said.
Asia is important for REDD (reducing emission from deforestation and forest degradation) as about 20 percent of the world’s forests are in Asia and Oceania.
FCPF was launched at the 13th session of the conference of the parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Bali.
FCPF first began operations in June 2008. There are 47 participating developing countries in REDD which have been selected to join the FCPF (18 in Africa, 18 in Latin America, and 11 in the Asia pacific region).
Thirteen donors or contributors from both the public and private sectors are financially supporting the FCPF in Laos. After the country joined the FCPF it received two grants, US$200,000 for RPP (readiness, preparation and proposal) development implemented during 2009-2010 and US$3.6 million for RPP implementation and REDD+ readiness support. This grant became effective in August this year. The objective of the project is to contribute to Laos’ efforts to design and implement a sound national REDD+ strategy. The FCPF is designed to set the stage for a large-scale system of incentives for reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries, providing a fresh source of financing for the sustainable use of forest resources and biodiversity conservation and for the more than 1.2 billion people who depend to a varying degree on forests for their livelihood.

Agricultural expansion needed for food security and commerce

Vientiane Times, 12 Dec 2014

Laos plans to produce about 5 million tonnes of rice by 2020 to ensure food security in the country. Throughout the past 39 years, the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry has spent a lot of its budget investing in the generation of food produce as a means of creating food security in the country.

The government has focused on rice as the priority food of the nation, encouraging farmers to grow different types of cash crops, livestock development and fish breeding according to ministry reports.

No concessions without consent, working group says

Vientiane Times, 4 November 2014
The national land regulations, including the National Land Policy and Land Law must be explicit in regulating and how and when land can be expropriated and it should be only made possible for public purposes.
 The statement was one of the key messages the Land Sub-sector Working Group (LSSWG) conveyed to the National Resources and Environment Sector Working Group (NRESWG) during preparations for the upcoming Round Table Implementation Meeting to be held in Vientiane this month.
The message was disseminated at the sector working group held yesterday in Vientiane, where Deputy Minister of Natural Resources and the Environment Ms Bounkham Vorachit, Country Manager of the World Bank Ms Sally Birmingham and Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany to Laos Michael Grau were in attendance. The LSSWG gave the recommendation concerning the land tenure security for Lao citizens and protection of the investments made in the country.
 Land issues have been longstanding in Laos for many years, while the National Land Policy which the government has been drafting for years was not approved despite having been brought for discussion at sector working group meetings and tabled at the National Assembly on numerous occasions.
Land concessions and the compensation paid to those who lose their land were the most frequently raised land issues with the public expressing its opinion that compensation should be paid at market rates.
 As the result of its work presented at the meeting held on October 14, the land issues sub-sector working group strongly recommended that legislation must make clear that land ownership or land use rights can only be revoked with the free, prior, and informed consent of the affected land rights holders.
 However, an exemption will be made for land resumptions that directly and primarily benefit the general public and provided that the affected parties receive, full, fair, and prior compensation.In addition, this must be applied to both individually and communally held land, be it land under customary ownership or with a formal title.
 Private purpose land use transfers on communal lands shall only be implemented if agreed upon by consent of a minimum of two-thirds (but ideally 80 percent) majority of all affected land use rights holders.
 The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment has been assigned as the government’s secretariat on natural resources and the environment and thereby oversees the NRESWG under the government round table meeting process. At the meeting yesterday, NRESWG joined with development partners to review the draft vision towards 2030 for the natural resources and environment sector and the plan for the period from 2016 to 2020 before submitting them to the round table process and incorporation into the National Socio-Economic Plan for the next five years.

*Family incomes fail to keep pace with economic growth*

Vientiane Times, 25 Oct 2014

Despite annual economic growth of 8 percent over the past four years, the average household income does not reflect this growth, senior government officials and economists say.

A senior economist, Dr Leeber Leebuapao, told Vientiane Times on Friday that strong economic growth does not necessarily translate into higher incomes for all sectors of society. This was because economic growth measures all sectors of the economy whereas individuals rely on different sectors of the economy which are growing at different rates. For instance, even though agriculture still accounts for over 70 percent of the nation’s workforce the sector itself is only growing at 3 percent annually.

*MONRE: 10 projects to be cancelled*

Vientiane Times, 24 Oct 2014

Officials are now considering cancelling contracts on 10 projects due to failure in following national resource and environmental regulations.

The Ministry of National Resources and Environment (MONRE) told the media at a government meeting press conference yesterday that after inspecting various projects relating to their jurisdiction, the department found 10 projects were breaking regulations and the law. As a result, the ministry forwarded this information to the Ministry of Planning and Investment in order to cancel the contracts.
Deputy Minister of the National Resource and Environment Ms Bounkham Vorachit said they cooperated with other involved ministries to investigate various projects in provinces across the country.

*Attapeu folk continue to unearth alabaster despite ban*

Vientiane Times, 23 Oct 2014

The high sale price of alabaster has brought local people flocking to Phoukanghong Mountain in Attapeu province, where they have been digging up blocks of the mineral to sell, despite a government ban on its removal. Locals told Vientiane Times yesterday that villagers were continuing to remove the rocks illegally and with great enthusiasm, as if celebrating a festival.

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