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Rainforest in Laos
Laos: Cooperation in action

Responsible use of tropical forests

For generations, forests have served as an important source of food and income for the people of Khangkao, a mountain village in the North of Laos. They provide wood for construction and for fuel, and mushrooms, roots and medicinal plants.

Yet, more and more areas of forest in Khangkao are being slashed and burnt so that the steep slopes can be used to grow dry rice or maize. The growing international demand for maize is encouraging this trend and is also causing over-cultivation of large tracts of land.

Forests are not just an important basis for people's livelihoods in villages such as Khangkao, they also play a central role in international climate protection, serving as carbon sinks and thereby lessening the impact of the global greenhouse effect.

Climate protection through forest conservation

This is where the BMZ programme "Climate Protection through Avoided Deforestation" comes in: the inhabitants of Khangkao are developing a plan for the conservation of the forest and for its sustainable use. The project is intended to pave the way for results-based payments within the framework of REDD+. (REDD stands for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation.) The basic idea behind REDD+ is to compensate governments and local communities for avoided deforestation and to verifiably reduce emissions. In 2015, Laos was included in the World Bank's multilateral Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF), which had been set up for this purpose.

The goal of the project in Khangkao is to improve the economic situation of the villagers through income generated by sustainable forest management and through the provision of technical and financial support, so that they will no longer need to keep expanding their traditional slash-and-burn agricultural practices into long-established areas of forest.

The villagers are closely involved in the implementation of the project. The possibilities and risks of forest use were explained to them at the outset. In a second step, they analysed the different types of forest and their uses. The project participants used the resultant findings to develop a forest management plan. Forest management contracts between the district government and the villagers now ensure that they receive financial support in exchange for promoting forest conservation and sustainable forest-use practices. Their contributions include demarcating borders, thinning the forest and taking responsibility for fire management.

The aim is to enable the regeneration of damaged forests so they can be used sustainably into the future. The project is also helping villagers to tap into alternative sources of income, for example through diversification, niche products and climate-friendly increases in agricultural production, and animal husbandry. The villagers receive funding and technical support from village development funds.

70 villages supported

The project is successful as the village people benefit from the changes that have been made, and international climate instruments like REDD+ are being used. This means that Khangkao will still be able to receive funds for forest conservation even after the German project has ended. The resources are paving the way for the introduction of sustainable timber management, which will benefit the villagers on a lasting basis.

The project is promoting the long-term, sustainable development of 70 villages in two districts in northern Laos and making an important contribution to international climate protection in accordance with the Paris Agreement.

Rainforest in Laos

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