June 08, 2016

Tree planting looks set to fall short of target in Laos

By:  The Vientiane Times, June 5, 2016

Laos will only be able to plant about 80 per cent of the government’s plan for tree seedlings after forestry operations delayed planting while they observed the trend in timber prices.
The Laotian Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry this year planned to encourage other government bodies and the private sector to plant about 24,000 hectares of trees and reforest over 200,000 hectares for environmental protection and to increase green areas.

But the continuing decline of the rubber price is a major issue that has reduced the number of trees planted this year, according to forestry authorities.

The most popular trees planted by government agencies are native types and ornamental species such as the Indian devil tree or maitinpet (Alstonia scholaris), New Guinea rosewood or maidou (Pterocarpus indicus), maitaekha (Afzeleia xylocarpa), and maikhaen (Shorea talura).

Meanwhile the private sector is planting industrial trees such as eucalyptus, rubber and teak, the Promote Forest Plantation and Investment Division reported.

Each year, about 70-80 per cent of government-planted seedlings survive after planting while the survival rate of trees planted by private companies is higher as they have good seedlings and maintenance.

Last year the general public and businesses planted more than 19,000 hectares of trees nationwide or about 63 per cent of the planned 30,000 hectares.

The division also suggested that trees should be planted between May and August because of good rainfall and that the sectors concerned should focus on native and high-value trees, as these are the ones that have been felled in previous years.

Challenging issues in the sustainable management of tree plantations include the limited budget available to maintain them, while land expansion for construction and development is also seeing young tree plantations bulldozed.

The Laotian government has been promoting the importance of reforestation for socio-economic development since 1996.

The government aims to increase forest cover to about 70 per cent by 2020, of which 500,000 hectares will be commercial tree plantations. So far, more than 440,000 hectares of land have been planted.

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