Laos is unlikely to meet its 2020 target of 70 percent forest cover, according to officials in the forestry department.
Mr. Sousath Sayakoummane, Head of the Forestry Department, Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, was quoted in a report by KPL News that the target for forest cover was determined every five years, with the last target being set in 2015.
At that time, forest cover reached 58% of the country, and an annual increase of two percent per year was expected.
Current forest cover in Laos now sits at around 60% and is unlikely to reach the 2020 target of 70%.
Socio-economic development, and the associated infrastructure development, has led to land clearance for projects such as roadways, dams, railways, and mines.
Additionally, poor people living in rural areas continue to clear forested areas for agricultural production and subsistence farming.
Meanwhile, illegal logging and cross-border timber trade remain a chronic problem, with organized groups of illegal loggers smuggling timber to neighboring countries due to high demand.
The implementation of forestry laws and regulations, as well as management systems, has not always been performed well, admitted Mr. Sousath.
The foresty sector needs to learn to better apply its policies, measures, and methods to better manage, develop, and use forests in the future.