Laos: Protecting biodiversity

Laos: Protecting biodiversity in the Hin Nam No region

The 88,500-hectare Hin Nam No conservation area in Laos, which is situated on the Vietnamese border, is one of the world's largest karst regions. It is a landscape of breathtaking beauty with unique limestone formations. It is home to endangered species such as leopards, and to a vast range of plants. More than 20 villages are located within the protected area. Their inhabitants depend on the region's natural resources for their livelihoods.

Poaching, illegal logging and lack of enforcement of park rules are increasingly putting a strain on the area's sensitive ecosystem. So far, technical, financial and human resources for the nature reserve's management and protection have been inadequate.

As part of the "Protection and Sustainable Use of Forests and Biodiversity" programme, Germany supports the protection of the Hin Nam No region. The activities are geared towards preserving biodiversity and simultaneously reducing poverty in the local rural communities.

Fostering ecotourism

In order to improve the economic situation of the local people, public-private partnerships are used to develop ecotourism programmes and market them.

If the protected area was given the status of an ASEAN Heritage Park and UNESCO World Natural Heritage Site, the region would become better known and tourism marketing would become easier. Germany therefore supports the development of the Hin Nam No region to become a transboundary UNESCO World Natural Heritage Site.

The German programme is also helping to set up a joint administrative body for the area's integrated regional development. Moreover, efforts are under way to establish a joint protected area management system and strategic, sustainable tourism development efforts.

Germany's approach involves fostering cooperative management forms that bring together authorities and local people to jointly plan the protection and administration of the area.

Such a co-management approach is a new thing in Laos. Villagers are forming committees to protect and manage natural resources in and around Hin Nam No Park based on a predefined plan.

Results to date

The programme has developed a joint management system for the Hin Nam No protected area. Several stakeholders and interest groups are already using the newly developed tourism strategy.

Project data

Envisaged duration: September 2017 to March 2021

Financial volume: 9.95 million euros