Community forest to protect natural resources

[Original (March 29, 2022); Translated by E. Miyazaki /A. Taguchi]

In the rural areas of Laos, people have been taking food and timber from rich forests as much as they need for their daily lives. However, as the economy rapidly developed in recent years, plantations and dams were constructed and deforestation increased. People faced conflicts about unfair land expropriation and deforestation due to ambiguous boundaries of villages and forests.

To prevent such conflicts, we created “community forests” in two villages. We chose an area in the forest that the villagers wanted to preserve and registered it as a conservation forest at the public administration office. We also placed signboards showing the boundaries and regulations to notify people that deforestation is prohibited there. These help the villagers defend the forest against unfair land expropriation for development projects.

We heard many strong voices from the villages about these projects.

“Now that the village boundary has become clear, we are able to speak up and say that this is our own land.”

“The community forest will be helpful over the coming years. We have not seen any prohibited acts. We remind everyone of the regulations every time we have village meetings. The forest of Don Plai is rich, containing bamboo shoots and big trees such as rosewood and mai nyang. They might have disappeared if we did not protect them. I think the regulations are well-organized and are maintained duly by the committee. A part of our forest was used for constructing transmission lines for a hydroelectric dam before. But after the community forest was registered and the boundaries and the conditions became clear, it became easier for us to negotiate with the developers. We want to be firm with our position and opinions from now on.”

We hope that the community forest managed by the villagers will help protect nature in Laos from land expropriation and deforestation.

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