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Wednesday, July 24, 2024

Image on Social Media Reveals Drastic Transformation of Phou Kong Khao Forest Area

This Week

In a Facebook post originally shared by Thongkhoon Sayalath, an image depicts a stark comparison of the Phou Kong Khao conservation forest area, in Vientiane Province before 2020 and after 2024, revealing the near-total obliteration of what was once a natural haven. Now, only a handful of withered trees remain.

This has quickly sparked widespread criticism among social media users. “If it’s a forest-protected area, why do the authorities allow it to become severely damaged?” asked one social media user in the comment section.

Many users are expressing their outrage, stating that responsible officials should feel ashamed for permitting this environmental tragedy. Others are mourning the loss of the forest, expressing regret over the felling of trees that were over a century old and once provided clean air for the community and tourists alike.

“Around 6 to 7 years ago, the place was a beautiful and unique landscape, but now all the trees are gone. It’s very sad,” read another comment.

“I just visited the place in February of this year, and the situation was just as bad as depicted in the image,” said Kaoxue Yang, who lives in a village near Phou Kong Kao.

She mentioned that the area became very popular a few years ago, especially in 2022-2023, as tourists had to pass through it to reach another mountain, namely Phou Pha Dai, one of the highest points near Vientiane.

Kaoxue added that some locals rely on tree cutting as a source of income, speculating that they might be responsible for cutting down these trees. However, she expressed doubt towards the local authorities, questioning why such actions were allowed to occur in an area designated as a conservation zone.

Despite the areas being designated as protected forest areas by the Lao government, social media users expressed concern that government authorities might be involved in the deforestation, urging the relevant sectors to promptly address the issue. They emphasize the urgent need for stricter regulations and enforcement to protect remaining forests and prevent similar incidents from occurring in the future.

In 1940, Laos had over 70 percent forest coverage. However, today, only 40 percent of that forested area remains, and the situation continues to worsen due to various factors such as infrastructure development, conversion of forest areas into industrial zones, slash-and-burn agriculture, and rampant logging.

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