Overview of Forest Governance, Markets and TradeBy Keith Barney, Kerstin Canby - York University, Forest Trends View Publication
Over the past decade in Lao PDR, new regulations and policies related to logging and timber exports have aimed to conserve existing natural forests and promote a shift towards participatory, sustainable forest management. Still, the main challenge will be to implement these reforms effectively. In addition, over the past five to six years, considerable foreign direct investment has moved into Laos‘ forest-land sector, in the form of agribusiness plantations and infrastructure development. While a welcome development from a financial perspective, this situation has promoted natural forest conversion and is challenged by a number of regulatory uncertainties.
This report finds that: 1) timber sales account for roughly 12% of overall government revenue; 2) Laos’ forest product export markets are dominated by Vietnam and Thailand, and Laos’ main export markets in turn are significant re-exporters of manufactured forest products, to markets which increasingly require legal verification such as the USA and the European Union; 3) community land tenure and forest zoning processes need to be clarified and implemented adequately in order to safeguard local livelihoods and environmental services.