Mr. Khamouane Boupha, Minister to the Lao Prime Minister’s Office admitted that currently Lao authorities still do not know the real extent of the forest density in their country. Thus, Laos plans to conduct a new forestry survey in 2011, while the illegal logging in the country for illicit lumber trading is on the rise.
The survey in 2002 showed that Laos’ forest density was only 41%, which was 29% decreased from the density of 71% in 1940. This means that in 2002, Laos’ forest areas covered less than 10 million hectares versus 17 million hectares in 1940. In other words, during the course of 62 years, Laos’ forest was reduced by 7 million hectares or equal to the average of 113,000 hectares annually.
This situation combined with the increasingly widespread of illegal logging for illicit lumber trading makes Mr. Khamouane Boupha believe that the current Laos’ forests cover only 35% of the country’s land.
Moreover, the prevalence of illegal logging has become an issue of deep concern among people at large so that they raise their concerns to Lao National Assembly members to request the government forcefully investigation the illegal logging activities that have been widespread encroaching upon the national forest conservation areas across Laos. The conservation areas that have seen the most widespread illegal loggings are in Phoukhao Khuay and Phou Phanang, where police seized over 18,000 cubic meters of lumber last year.
This situation has dramatically destroyed the country’s forest areas; therefore, Lao authorities plan to conduct a survey again in 2011 to determine the exact forest density in the country.
Songrit Pongern reported from Bangkok on 09/07/09. (English translation by Buasawan Simmala)