Lao officials acknowledge that their country's national forests continue to shrink and have been reduced to a level critical to the survival of both the human and wildlife populations.
Mr. KhamOuane Boupha, President of Laos' National Land Management Authority, said in a recent conference that in 1989 forest areas covered 47% of the country's land, and that was already a low level because, in principle, in order for nature to provide adequate water for use and consumption by the population, forests must cover more than 65% of the country's land areas.
The shrinking of forest areas has affected the country's energy production. Officials say electricity produced by their country's numerous dams was down 15% last year because there were not enough water in dam reservoirs, forcing Laos to buy back electricity from Thailand.
It is estimated that rich forest areas now totals only 35% of Laos land masses, down from 47% in 1989 and 41% in 2002. Authorities say the three main reasons contributing to shrinking forest density are slash and burn agriculture, indiscriminate concessions, and illegal loggings.
Vowing to reclaim their forest back 53% by 2010 and 70% by 2020, Lao authorities launched a reforestation campaign many years ago. On the annual Tree Planting Day in Laos, June 7, officials urged the population across the country to plant one million trees. It is not known whether that goal was achieved.
Nevertheless, it is hard to fathom that Laos will be able to restore its forests back 53% by 2010 because, officials say, only about 60% of the trees planted so far have survived and are growing.
Listen to our report for details in Lao.