24.07.2020

Teak tree certification in Laos

A man and a woman stand next to a tree and hold a certificate in their hands.

FLOURISH has helped farmers in northern Lao PDR to obtain certificates for their teak plantations. Photo: RECOFTC

About 80 percent of the Lao population relies on forest resources for their income. Unfortunately, many forests have undergone severe degradation, causing difficulties for many families to provide for their basic needs.

One of the forest areas severely affected is in are Xayabouly and Bokeo provinces. To combat this, the local communities grow teak trees on small plots, where local forests have become degraded. However, without support and official certificates, they lack the commercial rights and with it the economically benefits derived from the tree plantations.

Forest restoration through strengthening of ownership

In order to strengthen tenure rights and encourage restoration of degraded forests, the government awarded more than 100 low-income farmers certificates for their teak plantations. The certificates grant local communities commercial rights to harvest their trees, a strong incentive for sustainable management of the plantations. The certificates also open the door to partnerships with sawmills and other buyers, paving the way for communities long mired in poverty to increase their incomes.

“I hope the certificate will make it easier to sell the trees, gain a better price and improve my livelihood in the future,” said Sy Oudompone, a teak tree farmer.

Support from International Climate Initiative (IKI)

The IKI-funded project FLOURISH promotes forest landscape restoration and climate change responses in Southeast Asia. It works to restore and preserve local forests. It supports the local communities to meet the requirements to obtain the certificates by conducting surveys of their land and trees and teaching farmers how to manage their plantations and negotiate with sawmills and other buyers of their products. The local communities often used to cut the trees when they needed money. However, with new skills, knowledge and security, they can manage plantations for the future, as well as nurture trees to maturity, a process that takes years.

Zertifikatübergabe

Through the project, more than 300 farmers have now received certificates. The co-signing of certificates by husbands and wives is also encouraging women to become more involved in forest management.

Goal to increase forest cover by 70%

RECOFTC, the organization that implements the project, has long supported community forestry in Lao PDR, recognizing that the people who depend on local forests are best placed to look after them. The involvement of the communities in tree planting and forest management contributes directly to the Lao PDR government’s goal to increase forest cover to 70 percent of the country’s land area by 2020. Healthier and more sustainable plantations also help to resolve the climate crisis, with larger trees storing more carbon from greenhouse gas emissions.

Read more about the FLOURISH project.