Working towards greater community control over land, forests and natural resources

What can be done to mitigate the harmful effects of mining?

Vientiane Times, November 7, 2016

http://www.vientianetimes.org.la/sub-new/Opinion/Opinion_what260.htm

Mining operations are proliferating in Laos but many of them are not utilising environmentally friendly practices, adversely affecting local communities and failing to comply with government regulations. Vientiane Times went to the National Assembly to ask members about their experiences of these issues in their home constituency.

Policy makers call for recognition of inherited lands

Vientiane Times, August 25, 2016
http://www.vientianetimes.org.la/FreeContent/FreeConten_Policy.htm

Policy makers have called for recognition of lands which local people have inherited from their parents, despite land titles having not been issued for those lands. They made the calls as policy makers from various organisations shared opinions to improve and finalise the Draft National Land Policy at a meeting on Tuesday in Vientiane.
The draft is planned to be submitted for debate at the government monthly meeting tomorrow. The draft is then set for submission to the ordinary session of the National Assembly in October this year. According to the draft policy presented for discussion at Tuesday’s meeting, the state acknowledges and protects the land use rights of people who have inherited land from their parents or relatives. In this regard, the lands are required to be developed or made use of for some production or development activities and must not be located in protected or conservation forest areas.
Deputy Director General of the Land Administration Department, Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment Mr. Anothai Chanthalasy said yesterday that the participants recommended that more details needed to be worked out toward recognition.
�The participants have suggested that once the draft is approved, the policy is required to be translated into law and regulations,� he told Vientiane Times , adding the current Law on Land would be amended in line with the policy.
The law and regulations are supposed to provide details such as for how many years after the lands are occupied that land rights would be recognised and also if it has been used over consecutive periods.
Some observers noted it would be illogical for nomad farmers to claim ownership recognition over every plot they have used for shifting slash and burn cultivation from place to place. Previously, reports emerged that some local people who inherited lands from their parents were poorly compensated by development projects as the project developers claimed the lands were not issued with land titles. But some policy makers noted it was the state sector in charge that was slow in issuing the land titles.
The participants welcome the draft, which states that people whose lands are affected by development projects will receive fair and reasonable compensation that will enable the affected people to enjoy better living conditions. Those lands affected by commercial projects will be compensated in line with the market price at the time. The state also permits foreign citizens of Lao origin to purchase residential land use rights in line with the relevant law and regulations after they are granted permission to stay in Laos permanently, according to the draft.
Foreign investors doing businesses in Laos are also allowed to purchase land use rights to construct residences and offices in line with the relevant law and regulations.
The draft indicates that 16.9 million hectares of land representing 70 percent of the nation’s total area will be dedicated for forest coverage. Some 4.5 million hectares representing 19 percent is assigned for agricultural production, while the remaining 2.28 million hectares or 11 percent is allocated to be used for other purposes.

New miners to come under scrutiny in Laos

Vientiane Times July 20, 2016

PM urges evaluation of the Turning Land into Capital policy

KPL 6 July 2017:

(KPL) At a recently held meeting between cabinet members and provincial governors (Jun 23-24), Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith assigned the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment to work with the Ministry of Finance to re-examine land taxation, the selling of land, and the transfer of ownership to analyze the positive and negative impacts of the Turning Land into Capital policy and ensure that land taxes go to the state treasury.

Research team proposes better banana plantation management

Vientiane Times, April 4, 2016.

An agricultural research team has called for the government to formulate and enforce policies and measures to manage banana plantation investments in Laos after they were shown to have negative impacts on society and the environment. The team from the National Agriculture and Forestry Research Institute (NAFRI) and the National University of Laos recently conducted a study on banana plantations, supported by various international organisations. Its recommendations include the formulation of appropriate market policies in order to avoid the risks of failing prices and policy implementation for the proper enforcement of environmental laws.

Bokeo Governor imposes ban on expansion of banana farms

By Phetsamone

(KPL) The Governor of Bokeo Province Khamphanh Pheuyavong has imposed a ban on the further expansion of banana plantations invested in by foreign investors in the province. The area of banana plantation investments by foreign companies currently stands at over 10,000 ha.  “Impacts on the environment and nearby communities partly results from the fact that relevant government authorities failed to carry out proper management and monitoring of the issue. As a result, chemical fertilizers and harmful herbicides and pesticides have been used by foreign investors,” said Governor Khamphanh Pheuyavong.

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