Thematic Experts Focus on Better Forest Governance in Laos

A Thematic Experts Group and officials from line ministries met in Vientiane Capital on March 17 to brainstorm ideas over a draft definition of the legality standard for wood from conversion areas for better forest governance in Laos.

The conversion areas comprise an infrastructure project, a mining area, plantations, and road construction projects.

The discussion was made at a one-day multi-stakeholder workshop in Vientiane in attendance of officials from the ministries of Industry and Commerce, Finance, Planning and Investment, Energy and Mines, and Environment and Water Resources.

This is a part of an initiative led by the Lao government and other stakeholders involved in the Lao-EU FLEGT (Forest Law Enforcement Governance and Trade) Process.

It is also to translate into reality the Prime Minister’s Order No. 15 on Enhancing the Strictness of Management and Inspection of Timber Exploitation, Timber Movements and Timber Businesses.

“By reviewing laws and regulatory instruments for conversion areas to remove inconsistencies and clarify roles and responsibilities across different ministries involved, the legality of timber from different converted forest areas will be better understood and the movement of such timber will be better monitored and traced,” said Deputy Director General of Forestry Department, Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, Mr Bounpone Sengthong.

“The thorough legal timber definition will surely enhance understanding among relevant ministries, civil society and the private sector, including project investors and developers, especially when it comes to law enforcement practices,” he added.

Once the legal definition of timber has been developed, through multi-stakeholder platforms and discussions with the EU, a field test of the legality definition will be conducted.

The test will allow for an additional review of the definition to ensure applicability in the field.

The definition is comprised of the principle on converting timber from conversion areas for use in development, planning for exploration, timber exploration in conversion areas for use into development targets, timber selling and timber movement into wood processing factories, and environmental and social obligations.

Source: Lao News Agency