May 19, 2011
(KPL) The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry has urged the public and private sectors to step up tree planting activities in observation of Arbor Day on June 1.
The call for action comes as the ministry’s tree planting target is set at five percent higher than for 2010.
Last year the general public and businesses planted about 38,000 hectares of trees nationwide, and this year that figure will increase to over 40,000 hectares, said Forestry Department Director General Dr Silavanh Sawathvong.
According to government planning, each year 30,000 hectares are allocated to the forestry sector, but thanks to the efforts of other sectors and people around the country, the area planted is generally much higher, he said.
Officials will use the occasion of Arbor Day to raise awareness of the need for increased forest cover, particularly among young people.
Government and private organisations will hold activities to mark the day, with some sectors beginning planting this month. Tree planting is likely to continue until August or September, Dr Silavanh said.
The most popular tree species are the Indian devil tree or may tinpet ( Alstonia scholaris ), New Guinea rosewood or may dou ( Ptericarpus indicus ), may taekha ( Afzeleia xylocarpa ), may khaen ( Shorea talura ), teak and may khaen, as they fetch a high price when felled and sold. Each year, the government teams up with companies and the public to prepare about 50 million saplings, using 2 billion kip from the forestry development fund to publicise the Arbor Day tree planting.
The government has been promoting the importance of reforestation for socio-economic development since 1996.
The government aims to increase forest cover to about 70 percent by 2020, of which 500,000 hectares will be commercial tree plantations. So far, more than 300,000 hectares of land have been planted, Dr Silavanh said.
To reach this goal, the Forestry Department has been working with provincial and district forestry divisions to keep close tabs on planting activities over the past fiscal year and register tree farms under the categories of government, private, personal and family.
The department also holds consultation meetings with business units on wood processing to increase understanding of government policy regarding forestry issues.
In addition, it joins with local authorities to allocate tree planting areas to ensure sustainable practices.
Awareness of tree planting activities is raised through the media, and lectures on the topic are given in schools, hospitals and companies.
From 2002 to 2010, forested areas in central Laos declined by 3.5 percent, while nine percent of southern forests disappeared, according to the Forestry Department.