Nakai-Nam Theun National Park to Join IUCN Green List

Nakai-Nam Theun National Park

The Nakai-Nam Theun National Park, one of the last remaining wildernesses in Southeast Asia, is to be accepted into the IUCN Global Green List program.

The Nakai-Nam Theun National Park (NNT-NP) is an area of pristine forest spanning over 4,000 kilometers across Khammouane and Bolikhamxay provinces in central Laos. It was designated as a national park in February last year by prime ministerial decree, and is recognized as a global hotspot for biodiversity.

Identified as one of the key biodiversity areas within the Indo-Burma biodiversity hotspot, the Nakai-Nam Theun features a unique climatic pattern and ecosystem characterized rich in species. Due to its location in the Annamite Mountains, the area features some of the latest mammals discovered by science, including the endangered Saola, Larg-Antlered Muntjac, and the Annamite Striped Rabbit.

Similarly, 31 villages are located within the protected area, representing 7,000 people from nine different ethnic groups, each with their own distinctive languages, including the Saek language which is known only to the area.

Nakai-Nam Theun is home to many rare, endemic and highly threatened species
Nakai-Nam Theun is home to many rare, endemic, and highly threatened species.

The approval for NNT-NP to join the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Global Green List program was made at the 17th Nakai Nam Theun National Park Committee Meeting held in Vientiane Capital on Friday. The event was attended by representatives from the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, provincial deputy governors, provincial forestry officials, and representatives of the Nam Theun 2 Power Company.

Joining the program means that NNT-NP will be listed under an international standard of certification that recognizes and improves successful area-based nature conservation efforts.

Other benefits of green list certification include regional and international recognition as part of a community of protected areas that demonstrate conservation leadership through commitment and action.

Nakai-Nam Theun National Park Committee Meeting
The 17th Nakai-Nam Theun National Park Committee Meeting

The IUCN provides technical support to green list members, helping strengthen park management and governance, and often results in increased funding. Such benefits will see NNT-NP become a leader of conservation efforts in Laos, setting a precedent for other protected areas.

“The formal approval of the Lao Government to proceed with the IUCN Green List certification for the Nakai Nam Theun National Park is a big step toward our objective to have our national park obtain international recognition status,” said Mr. Savanh Chanthakoumane, Executive Director of the Nakai Nam Theun National Park.

“Aside from the inherent benefits coming from the certification, our process can also serve as a standard and reference for other protected areas in the Lao PDR,” he said.

NNT-NP will become one of two IUCN Green List candidate-sites in Laos, with IUCN also working in Hin Nam No National Park (HNN NP) as part of “Protection and Sustainable Use of Forest Ecosystems and Biodiversity”.

“We look forward to working with Nakai-Nam Theun National Park on getting the national park added to the global Green List,” said Jake Brunner, Head of IUCN’s Indo-Burma Group.

The IUCN is a membership union uniquely composed of both government and civil society organizations. The Lao PDR has been a state member since 1969.

IUCN harnesses the experience, resources, and reach of its more than 1,400 Member organizations and the input of more than 15,000 experts. This diversity and vast expertise make IUCN the global authority on the status of the natural world and the measures needed to safeguard it.