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Laos plans ecotourism in forest areas near Kingdom

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Visitors take a boat trip on the Nam Neun river through the Nam Et Phou Louey National Park, part of an ecotourism activity designed to conserve forests and wildlife. VIENTIANE TIMES

Laos plans ecotourism in forest areas near Kingdom

The Lao government plans to develop the Dong Hua Sao and Xe Pian national biodiversity conservation areas in Champasak province as sites for ecotourism, in ways that ensure their sustainability.

The plan was discussed in Champasak (which borders Cambodia’s Preah Vihear and Stung Treng provinces) on July 9 at a meeting chaired by National Assembly vice-president Sommad Pholsena, provincial governor Dr Vilayvong Bouddakham and a South Korean embassy representative.

Participants reviewed the plans for the two sites and discussed ways to rehabilitate the areas and develop them. Officials based their ideas on lessons learned by South Korea, which will be adopted in the development of Dong Hua Sao and Xe Pien national parks.

Speaking at the meeting, Sommad said: “This meeting is an important step to allow technical staff and others involved to share their opinions and ideas on the protection of the biodiversity of animals and plants in both national parks in ways that benefit socio-economic development and generate revenue for the country and local communities, alongside conservation efforts.

“Ecotourism, together with stable and sustainable forms of conservation, is important for every country in the world,” he added.

The establishment of the two parks is part of the National Green Growth Strategy, which the government endorsed in January 2019, aiming to keep development on a sustainable path.

In recent decades, Laos’ economic growth has depended heavily on the exploitation of natural resources, with huge numbers of large trees being felled and sold as a source of revenue.

But economists say the exploitation of natural resources to boost growth is not sustainable and the country will suffer when natural resources are depleted.

With 68 per cent forest cover, Champasak province is known for its waterfalls, which draw hundreds of thousands of foreign visitors to the province each year.

The Dong Hua Sao National Biodiversity Conservation Area is located about 30km east of Pakse and about 10km south of central Paksong district.

VIENTIANE TIMES/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

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