Forest Fires Threaten Northern Provinces of Laos

Forest Fires Rage in Northern Laos
Forest fires rage in the mountains of Luang Prabang

Thousands of hectares of forest in northern Laos has been devastated by forest fires that have yet to be contained.

Local authorities say forest fires have been reported in Oudomxay, Luang Namtha, Luang Prabang and Phongsaly provinces, close to borders with China, Myanmar, and Vietnam.

The forest fires, blazing out of control, have destroyed over 18,000 hectares of forest in Oudomxay province since mid-March, according to a report by Xinhua.

Local authorities and volunteers continue to fight the fires but access to some remote areas remains difficult.

Fires spread from Oudomxay to Luang Namtha, where over 520 hectares of forest has been reduced to ashes.

Meanwhile, fires in Phongsaly province have endangered the provincial hospital.

The Lao Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry has stated that the ongoing forest fires have been largely caused by the activities of local people, including slash and burn agriculture, and hunting in protected areas.

Laos has twenty national protected areas covering 14 percent of the country, and which contain a unique range of diverse flora and fauna, some of which are endangered.