Sustainable Forest and Land Management in the Dry Dipterocarp Forest Ecosystems of Southern Lao PDR

Published: 09 June 2022
Last edited: 09 June 2022
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The Sustainable Forest and Land Management in the Dry Dipterocarp Forest Ecosystems of Southern Lao Project, “SAFE Ecosystem Project” works in southern part of the country. The objective is to facilitate a transformative shift from unsustainable to integrated sustainable land and forest management in the dry dipterocarp forest landscape in order to secure critical wildlife habitats, conserve biodiversity, maintain ecosystems and support livelihoods' development.


It supports local communities to participate in wildlife protection, strengthening of alternative sources of likelihoods besides supporting upgrading of protected areas as part of the effort to that protect natural habitat, reverse environmental degradation, as well as supporting local livelihoods, providing alternative income -generating opportunities for communities and reinforcing their support for biodiversity conservation. A participatory approach was complemented by relevant government departments.


Southeast Asia
Scale of implementation
Forest ecosystems
Temperate deciduous forest
Connectivity / transboundary conservation
Ecosystem services
Erosion prevention
Habitat fragmentation and degradation
Indigenous people
Land management
Local actors
Protected and conserved areas management planning
Species management
Traditional knowledge
Species Conservation and One Health Interventions
Species Monitoring and Research
Land and Forest degradation
Loss of Biodiversity
Conflicting uses / cumulative impacts
Ecosystem loss
Sustainable development goals
SDG 1 – No poverty
SDG 2 – Zero hunger
SDG 3 – Good health and well-being
SDG 13 – Climate action
SDG 15 – Life on land


Sawannakhet Lao PDR, Kaysone Phomvihane District, Savannakhet, Laos


  • Limited sources of income generating activities leading to overdependence on natural resources
  • Communities impotent to prevent habitat loss and ecosystem degradation resulting in impoverished subsistence livelihoods
  • Overharvesting and forest crimes leading to decline in wildlife population
  • Limited capacity and resources by relevant agencies to conserve biodiversity and wildlife.

Building blocks

Conservation agreements

Development of alternative livelihoods generating activities

Public awareness on environmental and biodiversity conservation


Local communities in Savannakhet Province

How do the building blocks interact?

Key success factors - and the project activities that are structured to support these solution building blocks - must be coherent and coordinated. Conservation agreements will fail if communities are unaware of the initiative or the benefits it will provide. Similarly, conservation agreements cannot succeed in the absence of alternative livelihoods. When the project building blocks work together across the project landscape, it ensures that the project's goals and objectives will be sustainable over the long-term, securing both community and ecosystem well-being.


The project`s community participatory approach, capacity building and implementation of conservation contract besides ecotourism development in the site for conservation of wild life particularly the eld`s deer (Rucervus eldii) delivered significant results in terms of community behavioral change and doubling the population.    


Communities were empowered by training and provision of basic equipment enabled, participation in monitoring, reporting and enforcement of regulations. Furthermore, implementation of conservation agreements improved their well-being and enhanced their responsibility to conserve natural resources by reducing their dependance on forest products. The governance at the village level was improved with infrastructure support and capacity building on project management. Livelihoods' opportunities were availed equally including for youth and women as part of the efforts to ensure sustainable management of natural resources.


 Working with relevant government agencies has resulted in development of protected area management plans and business plans besides strengthening of community conservation units prevented hunting of endangered species resulting to population increase from 75-80 in 2016 to over 170 individuals in 2021.



The SAFE Ecosystem project commenced in 2016, at the time overdependence on natural resources and conversion of critical habitat had threatened the ecosystem resulting to habitat loss and degradation impacting negatively on the livelihoods and sustainable utilization of natural resources.

At the project inception, local communities used to hunt the eld`s deer, with limited understanding of their importance and encroachments of the protected area further threatened the ecosystem. Community engagements revealed more about the underlying causes: communities’ perception, reward for participation and the level of awareness about the eld`s deer and the ecosystem in general. They also expressed their willingness to take part in the initiatives to protect the endangered species and conserve the habitat. Dissemination of the revised forest law and regulations was used in creating awareness of the importance and the responsibility of the local communities in conservation and sustainable use of natural resources.


The project supported the building of a conservation team and also utilized the existing community structure “village development committee “in implementing activities as per the conservation agreements. The village development committee received financial support based on the implementation of the various activities as per the agreements. It ensured, that implemented activities were inclusive and documented. Benefits were shared, reinforcing local development and support for forest and wildlife conservation.

As a results of the community participatory approach with government support as well as tailed benefits, communities have not only been empowered to conserve the biodiversity but also appreciated the importance of conserving for development and future generations. Hunting became a thing of the past and the area attracted large number of tourists.

Contributed by

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Andrea Egan United Nations Development Programme