Laos makes progress in reducing emissions from deforestation

VIENTIANE (Vientiane Times/ANN) - Laos will move from the readiness phase of Reducing Emission from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) to demonstration in the coming years now that the first half of the project has been completed.

The 4th Joint Coordinating Committee for the Sustainable Forest Management and REDD+ Support Project (F-REDD+) took place in Vientiane yesterday to report on the progress of the project and discuss the work plan for the next stage.

Since the 3rd JCC meeting in October 2017, with support from F-REDD, Laos has made important progress, Director General of the Department of Forestry, Mr Sousath Xayakoummane, said.

Revision of the forestry law is underway, the National REDD+ Strategy is close to finalisation, the National Reference Emission Levels were submitted to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) on January 5, and the first draft of the Emission Reduction Programme Document was submitted to the Carbon Fund under the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility at the end of January.

The provincial REDD+ Action Plan for Luang Prabang province was approved on January 12, as one of the first Provincial REDD Action Plans in the country, Mr Sousath reported.

Revision of the forestry law needs to be completed without delay and the Forestry Strategy 2020 will be revised by the end of 2019, he added.

The government has formulated a plan to restore forest cover to 70 percent by 2020. To achieve this target, it has been establishing and revising forest-related laws and rules, said the Senior Representative of the JICA Laos Office, Mr Shunsuke Sakudo.

The government has also been defining REDD+ as a critical measure for sustainable forest management and addressing climate change and a useful means to improve the livelihoods of farmers who rely on forest resources, he said.

To help the Lao authorities realise their goal, the government of Japan has been providing the Lao government with various forms of support in the forest sector from the central to local levels through technical cooperation projects and grant aid programmes.

These have supported policy formulation, establishing a national forest information system, and REDD+ preparedness or livelihood improvement in villages.

The F-REDD project is now half complete and there are just two and a half years remaining.

To achieve the project goals and make the outputs and outcomes sustainable, project counterparts should closely work with Japanese experts and other development partners and relevant sectors of government, Mr Sakudo said.

He hoped the Department of Forestry would appoint project directors and project managers to fix the implementation structure appropriately and require relevant sectors at the central and provincial levels to take strong ownership and leadership roles in implementing the remaining part of the project.

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