Laos plans to plant 35 million trees on 36,950ha leading up to National Arbour Day on June 1 to restore forest cover up to 70 per cent of total land area by 2025.

Minister of Agriculture and Forestry Dr Phet Phomphiphak made a remark at the celebration about the areas for tree planting across the country, divided into 5,500ha for environmental conservation, 27,500ha for commercial plantations as well as 3,590ha on local peoples’ land.

Laos currently has about 62 per cent coverage of the country’s forest area, which is relatively high compared to other countries in the region and internationally.

According to the 9th Five-Year Socio-Economic Development Plan of the Government from 2021-2025, the ministry will continue promoting locals to plant trees and to restore forest cover up to 200,000ha for commercial plantations, 160,000ha planting to protect water resources, 40,000ha for environmental conservation, and the restoration of natural forests to 1.8 million hectares.

Dr Phet pointed out the expansion of tree planting will help for the direct and indirect socio-economic development of the nation, for example – the development of economic infrastructure such as hydropower, agricultural reservoirs, commercial production, transportation, sustainable exploitation of forest resources and non-timber forest products.

These have contributed to improving people’s livelihoods, linked to rural development and poverty alleviation.

The ministry has stressed that all events to mark Arbour Day must adhere to the government’s measures to prevent a recurrence of Covid-19. Tree planting activities must be held in an appropriate place with the number of people attending each activity limited, and celebration ceremonies should be as brief as possible.

Dr Phet also stressed that these activities are becoming increasingly important in achieving the nation’s forest coverage targets as well as mitigating the effects of climate change and protecting biodiversity, the rehabilitation of fertile forests for commercialisation, contribute to environmental protection, and reducing air pollution.

Meanwhile, forestry department officials said tree planting would assist in restoring forest cover for many thousands of hectares in the northern provinces of Oudomxay, Luang Namtha, Luang Prabang and Phongsaly which were destroyed by bushfires last year.