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Specified risks related to 21 sub-categories
Full Timber Legally Risk AssessmentList of Applicable LegislationTimber Mitigation GuideDocument guide
The forest cover assessment undertaken by the Department of Forestry under the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry in 2015, estimated the forest cover in Laos to be 13.7 million hectares or 58% of the total land area. This figure is down slightly from the 59.3% forest cover reported in the preceding assessment in 2010 . Existing Forestry Law recognises three forest categories: conservation (25%), protection (35%) and production (16%) forests, which together comprise 76% of the current forest area. The remaining forest area is unclassified. Thus, a significant share of current forest is located outside the three mentioned forest categories. Table 2 summarises the change in forest cover over a 10-year period from 2005 to 2015. This loss in forest cover has mainly been driving by the expansion of agricultural activities (including tree plantations), and clearing and conversions for hydropower, mining, and other infrastructure projects including urbanisation. Table 2: summary of forest cover change in Laos  . Forest classification Area in 2005 (ha) Area in 2005 (% total) Area in 2015 (ha) Area in 2015 (% total) Forest loss/gain (ha) Forest loss/gain (%) Protection forests 4,779,000 34% 4,619,000 35% -160,000 -3.35% Conservation forests (protected areas) 3,532,000 25% 3,470,000 26% -62,000 -1.76% Production forest areas 2,237,000 16% 2,142,000 16% -95,000 -4.25% Sub-total of the three forest categories 10,548,000 76% 10,231,000 77% -317,000 -3.01% Other forests outside the 3 3,328,000 24% 3,139,000 23% -189,000 -5.68% Overall total 13,876,000 13,370,000 -506,000 -3.65% All natural forests and forest land in Laos are state-owned and managed by state agencies at four levels of government (national, provincial, district and village), while individuals and organisations are not permitted to own natural forest, but may be able to lease such land. Foreigners do not qualify for land title in Laos but are eligible as foreign investors to lease degraded land or barren land from the state for agriculture and tree planting. Current legislation does not allow the allocation of concessions for commercial timber logging in natural forests. All intended timber harvesting in plantation and natural forests shall be included in the Annual Logging Plan approved by the National Assembly. The Annual Logging Plan is developed by the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry based on applications provided by provincial offices of Agriculture and Forestry. Commercial timber harvest in natural forest is only permitted: a) To selectively cut timber in production forests in which inventory, survey and forest management planning have been conducted, and on the basis of a pre-logging survey (Article 23), or b) Conversion areas of forestlands for government-approved development projects (geological prospecting, mining, road and hydropower dam construction, establishment of agriculture plantations) on the basis of a complete and thorough pre-logging survey (Article 24) Commercial timber harvesting in natural forests shall be conducted in compliance with harvesting regulations under logging permits and logging contracts by special logging units that are officially established by approval of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry under administration of the agriculture and forestry authorities or are otherwise sub-contracted under supervision of government staff. Under the new Forestry Law, it is unclear whether non-government business can be registered as an enterprise for the purpose of logging in natural forests, as Article 134 of the Forestry Law states that businessmen cannot harvest or clear forestland ‘where is not allowed to do so by the agriculture and forestry sector’. All logging in natural forests must be undertaken with the approval, supervision and monitoring of government officials. The agriculture and forestry authorities are responsible for measuring and grading timber stacked on second log landing, and for making log lists. Timber harvested in natural forests is state property and shall be sold through a bidding process or negotiations with interested buyers so that the government can maximise revenue from this natural resource. Minimum costs (royalties) per cubic metre of timber bought from second log landing are set and updated periodically by the Ministry of Industry and Commerce according to species and grade. Beginning in the 2011/2012 logging season, the Lao government has not issued quotas on logging in production forest areas before a forest survey is undertaken and forest management plans are made. Thus, today, almost all permitted timber harvesting in Laos is conducted based on permits (quotas) for land clearances under government-approved development projects. Logging of plantation timber for commercial purposes may be conducted only where land-use rights have been granted, or forest-use zones for villages have been approved. Household use is permitted). Rights and other requirements, such as felling and registration are also prescribed under the new Forestry Law. Rights to establish a plantation can be granted under a concession or leased. Over 700,000 ha of concessions for rubber and eucalyptus plantations have already been granted; a government strategy set a target of 500,000 ha of tree plantations by 2020. According to official data, the cumulative plantation area reached 487,000 ha in 2015. At that time, rubber trees (Hevea brasiliensis for latex extraction) accounted for 61% of this area and Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus spp. for pulp and sawn wood) or Acacia for 15%. Of the remainder, 11% is teak (Tectona grandis), which is considered the most important species. In 2018, the Government directed the authorities to stop issuing new leases or concessions for the establishment of rubber plantations on government-owned lands. In 2019, Laos had a CPI of 29, indicating that the country has high corruption levels and a low degree of legal compliance. The issuing of PMO 15 (2016) and the funding and redirection of resource to it implementation was a clear demonstration of commitment to address existing shortfalls and provide time to establish more robust regulatory instruments as well as more effective enforcement and compliance responses. The GoL has developed legislation and policies that assign specific roles and responsibilities related to combatting forest based crime, including distinct authority to manage, monitor, investigate and enforce laws and regulations, to various ministries and departments, including Agriculture and Forestry (MAF), Natural Resources and Environment (MoNRE), Industry and Commerce (MOIC), Finance (MOF), Public Security (MOPS), Health (MOH), and the Ministry of Transport (MOT). Within these Ministries, individual departments, both at the national, provincial and district levels, have specific functions as defined in terms of reference. The roles of these departments are devolved to the provincial, district and village levels through the local administration. Agencies with a role in the enforcement of forest and wildlife crime include the Department of Forest Inspection (DoFI), the Environmental and Economic Police, the Anti-Corruption Agency, Customs, and the Armed Forces. The DoFI, established in 2008, falls under the MAF. It is the GoL’s lead agency for enforcement activities under the Forestry Law 2019, and the Wildlife and Aquatic Law 2007 No07/NA. Further to PMO15, the GoL has enacted important legal changes under the Criminal Procure Law in October 2018 (broadened and clarified authority to act for law enforcement agencies), instituted Prime Minister Order #5 and adopted a new Penal Code which enhanced penalties that includes provisions targeting transnational and organized criminal networks and the individuals who support them. The new Penal Code also address many previous inconsistencies and gaps under laws, including international agreements such as CITES and the objectives of the Asia/Pacific Group on Money Laundering (APG). This improved regulatory framework demonstrates the GoL’s commitment to protect its forests and wildlife resources and to meet its international obligations under CITES, the UN Convention Against Organized Crime, and the UN Convention Against Corruption. Donor organizations have also started to provide support to the Department of Forest Inspection (DoFI), Lao Wildlife Enforcement Network (Lao-WEN) and its partners. This support has resulted in the establishment of centralized investigation and enforcement systems to combat illegal forest-based trade. The GoL has operationalized a risk-based approach to law enforcement activities, referred to as the Strategic and Tactical Enforcement Patrol Program (STEPP), and is improving coordinated, multi-agency operational responses at a provincial, national or international level. However, these systems and processes are not, and practical experience is limited and disjointed. Despite these advances, forest management and law enforcement agencies, for the most part, still lack the expertise to fully implemented sustainable approaches, effectively monitor and investigate criminal networks and locate illegal forest products. They are also deficient in capacity to identify and properly distinguish certain products, especially at border crossings, and don’t have sufficient resources to undertake sustained enforcement actions. The following section provides further information on the hierarchy of laws and the interactions of various regulatory instruments and related authorities in Lao PDR and is designed to assist a reader in interpreting a particular instruments relationship in regard to other such instruments, whether higher, lower or similar. Hierarchy of Law The Lao PDR the hierarchy of Laws is implied in the Law on Making Legislation No 19/NA 2012 and consists includes the issuing of specific administrative instruments relevant to specific laws and responsible ministries, departments, organisations or individuals. The general level of hierarchy is: • The Constitution • Laws • Resolutions of the National Assembly • Resolutions of the Standing Committee of the National Assembly • Ordinances of the President of the Republic • Decrees of the Government • Resolutions of the Government • Orders and Decisions of the Prime Minister • Orders, Decisions and Instructions of the Minister and Head of a Government Authority • Orders, Decisions and Instructions of the Provincial Governors and City Governors • Orders, Decisions and Instructions of the District and Municipality Chiefs • Village Regulations The Law on Making Legislation requires legislation be published in the Official Lao Gazette (https://laoofficialgazette.gov.la/) in order to be Effective (Article 80). This is the official source for all legally enforceable primary and subsidiary legislation of general application for Lao PDR at the national, provincial and capital levels. Districts / Municipalities and villages have the option to publish legislation on the Official Gazette and/or in other local media or post it in a way that people can access it easily. Note: The Lao PDR Trade Portal (https://www.laotradeportal.gov.la/) website provides information regarding importing/exporting goods into/from Lao, including information related to import/export process, regulations for specific products, and relevant laws. The Guide for Import-Export, on the right of this page provides a comprehensive set of information and guidelines in plain language, and the database is also designed for convenient search by topic. Importantly, Article 9. Contradiction of Legislation of the Law on Making Legislation states: “Legislation being developed shall be consistent with higher legislation.” Where a contradiction exists, legislation of the higher level shall be applied. If a contradiction of legislation at the same level exists, the later legislation shall be applied. If legislations at the same level contradict each other, the provisions of specific legislation shall prevail. However, contradictions may continue to exist after legislative changes and undermine the effectiveness of enforcement. The new 2017 Penal Code (Article 333) makes reference to CITES (“Any person importing, exporting, re-exporting, transhipping or transiting aquatic and wildlife including parts, organs and products of such aquatic and wildlife unlawfully with regulations relating to CITES, shall be punished by three months to five years of imprisonment and shall be fined not exceeding 10,000,000 Kip” as well as making it illegal to import, export, transport such items (Article 274, 282, 284 and 335). Authority Authority is defined under the Constitution, vested under laws, and codified under regulatory instruments issued via different administrative authorities. Administrative authority applies to those officials under direct responsibility chains. Under Article 5 of the Constitution, The National Assembly and other state organisations are established and function in accordance with the principle of democratic centralism: a term applied to policy defined by a ruling party. Importantly, Under the Constitution, Article 69, The government is the executive branch of the State. Under Article 73, the Prime Minister appoints senior government officials, including provincial Governors VIEW LESS
A type of selective logging is harvesting under special logging plans. The legal framework for timber harvesting under such special logging plans is vague and principles of allocation of special logging plans are inconsistent with main elements of the forest legislation in Laos. Therefore, special logging plans are not included as a source type.
FSC certified area:
0.078 Mha, updated April 1, 2023