New Lao Prime Minister Issues Ban On Timber Exports

Discussion in 'Laos - General Discussion Forum' started by brian_bkk, May 18, 2016.

  1. brian_bkk

    brian_bkk Ol'Timer Staff Member

    Not holding my breathe....

    New Lao Prime Minister Issues Ban on Timber Exports


    HOME | NEWS | LAOS

    New Lao Prime Minister Issues Ban on Timber Exports
    2016-05-17

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    A logging truck makes its way through Attapue province in southern Laos, May 2015.

    The new Lao government has issued a moratorium on the export of logs and timber in a bid to reduce rampant and widespread illegal wood shipments outside the small Southeast Asian nation’s borders, according to a copy of the document obtained by RFA’s Lao Service.

    Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith, who assumed office on April 20, issued the moratorium on May 13. It requires all ministries, provincial governors and mayors to implement strict measures to control and inspect the felling of trees, log transportation, and logging businesses.

    The moratorium contains 17 points, including one that forbids the export of logs, timber, processed wood, roots, branches, and trees from natural forests as well as logs the previous government had recently approved for export.

    It also specifies that all types of wood must be turned into finished products before they are exported, according to standards set by the country’s Ministry of Industry and Commerce.

    “Logging is suspended in the production forests,” the moratorium says. “A plan of the production-forest allocation must be completed and submitted to the government for approval.

    ”The moratorium does not exempt project developers or infrastructure-concession operators, and requires them not to use timber to pay for infrastructure development projects.

    The government is in charge of logging and selling wood directly to project developers and infrastructure-concession operators, the document says.

    Before the moratorium was issued, forestry officials had been surveying certain production forests with the aim of asking the government to reopen the areas to logging activities possibly by the 2016-2017 fiscal year, according to a report in theVientiane Times.

    Doubts about implementation

    Although the moratorium closes loopholes that has allowed for continued timber smuggling, one Lao legal expert doubts whether it will be properly implemented.

    “I am happy to hear that the prime minister issued the moratorium, but I am not quite sure if it can be strictly implemented,” said the expert who declined to be named. “Many laws related to logging issues have been implemented in the past, but they were only paper tigers that didn’t scare big loggers.”

    He went on to say that the person behind the logging for major infrastructure projects is a family member of former President Choummaly Sayasone.

    “All the national leaders and Lao people know it, but no one can do anything other than talk about it at coffee shops and sometimes have debates during ordinary sessions of the National Assembly,” he said. “But everyone has seen trucks transporting huge logs from Laos to Vietnam.”

    Lao’s forest law designates three kinds of forests—protected, reserved, and production forests, the last of which is used only for logging. In practice, however, illegal logging is done in all three categories of forest.

    “Land concessions for industrial trees, and mining and dam projects can be used as excuses to justify logging activities,” the expert said. Industrial trees are those grown for rubber and cashews.

    Khamphout Phandanouvong, director general of the Forest Inspection Department at the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, declined to comment on the government’s latest measures to prevent timber smuggling.

    Dodgy exports

    Laos has long suffered from the rampant smuggling of logs and timber to neighbors such as China and Vietnam.

    The government previously issued moratoriums and notices of suspension of logging activities and bans on timber exports to deal with the problem. They included:

    - a notice issued by the prime minister’s office in August 2015 that prohibited the export of logs and mandated that all timber must be processed in Laos before it is exported to foreign countries
    - a notice issued by the prime minister’s office in May 2015 prohibiting the export of logs and timber
    - a notice issued by the central committee of the Lao People’s Revolutionary Party in February 2014 regarding the ban on exporting logs, timber, roots, and half-finished wooden products
    - an order issued by the Ministry of Finance in July 2013 pertaining to the control of log exports and collection of tax from selling logs
    - a moratorium issued by the prime minister in November 2012 suspending logging in production forests and providing clear classifications of production forests for the government

    A report by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) leaked online last October revealed huge increases in illegal logging in Laos and suggested that government collusion had prompted some officials to take action to examine discrepancies in timber export and import figures with China and Vietnam.

    The report found that the value of Lao wood product imports reported by China and Vietnam exceeded that of Lao exports more than 10-fold, based on an analysis of Lao customs data.

    It focused on conversion forestry—logging in areas marked for the development of infrastructure projects such as hydropower dams, road building, and mining operations—which is used as an excuse for large-scale logging that otherwise would not be permitted under Lao law.

    The government previously issued logging quota exceptions in areas where infrastructure projects were being built, Khaphout Phandanouvong told RFA in a past report.

    Reported by RFA’s Lao Service. Translated by Ounkeo Souksavanh. Written in English by Roseanne Gerin.
     
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  3. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    Good move. Lets hope it is followed by concrete action.

    Some links on the massive deforestation from logging in Laos

    http://www.rfa.org/english/news/laos/timber-smuggling-11262014170709.htm

    http://www.redd-monitor.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/EIA-Crossroads-report-FINAL-low-1.pdf

    Can REDD save the forests of Laos?

    In Laos, Cronyism Is Fueling Illegal Logging With Little Payoff

    https://chrislang.files.wordpress.com/2016/02/anon2000.pdf

    And it's probably sad to say that it is not only a Lao problem. Cambodia & Myanmar & Vietnam should probably also be included.
    After riding round North Thailand for 25 years I can say that the rate of deforestation I've have seen in Laos since 1995 is bloody frightening.
    But again it aint only the nation of Laos with this problem.
     
  4. Ian Bungy

    Ian Bungy Ol'Timer

    As I have Stated Before all Illegal Loggers and Poachers should be Treated in the Same Way! And the Sentence would be Instant and Final! Disgusting Mongrels!
    I Sincerely Hope that this Minister does something for Laos Sake! He is 10 Years Late but have to start somewhere but I fear He will have little impact against Chinese Money and Power!
     
  5. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    A smal update from 3 Une 2016

    Lao Government Appoints Committee to Enforce Timber Export Ban

    Lao Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith this week appointed an ad hoc committee to enforce a nationwide ban on illegal logging within 60 days and block and prevent timber from leaving the country after some provinces were found to have violated a logging ban.
    The committee consists of high-ranking officials from government inspection agencies and anti-corruption organizations, along with the ministries of agriculture and forestry, natural resources and the environment, national defense, public security, industry and commerce, and finance, according to an announcement posted on social media.
    “The committee will cooperate with relevant ministries, governors and mayors to implement the ban on timber exports issued on May 13,” the announcement said. “It also will support, inspect and monitor ministers, mayors and governors in implementing the ban on timber exports.”
    The committee must report to the prime minister in all relevant sectors and local organizations refusing to implement the ban, it said.
    “The committee must thoroughly inspect and identify areas of reserved and protected forests and production forests in each province,” the announcement said. “It will also monitor log smuggling in red zones along border areas.”
    Thongloun said he issued the latest order based on public complaints on social media, especially Facebook, according to a Vientiane resident who has been following the issue online.
    Thongloun, who assumed office on April 20, issued a moratorium on May 13 requiring all ministries, provincial governors and mayors to implement strict measures to control and inspect the felling of trees, log transportation, and logging businesses to reduce rampant and widespread illegal shipments to neighboring countries.
    The moratorium forbids the export of logs, timber, processed wood, roots, branches and trees from natural forests as well as logs the previous government had recently approved for export.
    It also specifies that all types of wood must be turned into finished products before they are exported, according to standards set by the country’s Ministry of Industry and Commerce.

    Under cover of night
    The formation of the committee came on the heels of the explosion on Thursday of a passenger bus loaded with lumber in the Boualapha district of central Laos’ Khammouane province. Nine Vietnamese nationals who were working in Laos died, and three others were injured, according to local officials.
    “Eight workers were killed on the spot and one died in the hospital,” a witness who declined to be named told RFA’s Laos Service.
    “The explosion took place around 5 a.m.,” he said. “I assume that the smugglers were taking advantage of the early morning hours to transport the timber, hoping to escape arrest by officials.”
    Most timber smugglers load and transport trucks at night when there is less chance that police or other officials will detect their activities.
    The day of the bus explosion, several vehicles transporting logs passed through Saybouathong district in Khammouane, according to the person who witnessed the accident.
    Many trucks carrying huge logs traveled along Route 12 close to the Namphao border checkpoint in Boualapha district that leads into Vietnam, said another source who declined to be named.
    Laos has long suffered from the rampant smuggling of logs and timber to neighbors such as China and Vietnam where they are used to make furniture.
    The government previously issued moratoriums and notices of suspension of logging activities and bans on timber exports to deal with the problem, but to little avail.
    A report by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) leaked online last October revealed huge increases in illegal logging in Laos and suggested that government collusion had prompted some officials to take action to examine discrepancies in timber export and import figures with China and Vietnam.
    image.jpg
    Source: RFA 3 June 2016
     
  6. brian_bkk

    brian_bkk Ol'Timer Staff Member

    Some more from RFA
    Laos Prime Minister Asks Public to Help Cut Down the 'Log Mafia'


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    HOME | NEWS | LAOS

    Laos Prime Minister Asks Public to Help Cut Down the 'Log Mafia'
    2016-06-09
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    A pair of timber trucks from Khammuane province wait outside a saw mill in Paksan in Bolikhasay province.

    Laos Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith took to Facebook this week to call for a strict implementation of his country’s timber export ban and asked the public to become forest watchdogs in the face of a so-called “log mafia” that is attempting to evade the moratorium.

    The new Lao government banned the export of logs and timber on May 13 in a bid to reduce rampant and widespread illegal wood shipments outside the small Southeast Asian nation’s borders, and the government estimates that there are more than 100 truckloads of illegal lumber stashed in the forests as smugglers try to evade the ban.

    While the moratorium requires all ministries, provincial governors and mayors to implement strict measures to control and inspect the felling of trees, log transportation, and logging businesses, it's unclear how effective the Sisoulith’s appeal will be as some lower-ranking government officials appear to be less than enthusiastic about enforcing the ban, and some Laos fear retaliation from what they refer to as the “log mafia.”

    'They know each other'

    “The governor pretends to inspect the loggers for smuggling, but in fact the officials assigned to work in the field help the smugglers export all the timber before the rainy season because they know each other,” a government official in Khammuane province told RFA’s Lao Service.

    The official, a member of the committee established to monitor logging in the province, told RFA that attempts to run a contraband load of lumber out of the country literally blew the smugglers’ cover in early May.

    “At first the smugglers would export 170 trucks of timber to Vietnam, but on May 2 a Vietnamese truck loading timber had accident and an explosion killed nine Vietnamese workers, so the public was alerted,” said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity. “Then the smugglers hid the timber in saw mills and forests.”

    The Sayphouluang, Yernlavy, Ban Phone, Don Peuy, and Saynamyom saw mills, where the timber is hidden, lie in the Yommalath and Boualapha districts in Khammuane province, the official said. In Khamkeuth district, Bolikhamsay province logs and timber were found hidden in saw mills and in the forests, he added.

    Over the past two decades, 20 square kilometers in the Khamkeuth district were designated as a development area for the Phoudoi Development Company that has extensively logged the area.

    A district resident urged the government to conduct an investigation of logging in the area, telling RFA that smugglers have hidden thousands of cubic meters of cut logs there.

    Fear of the 'log mafia'

    “I would like the officials to come inspect in the province because now there are more than 10,000 cubic meters of logs and timber hidden in the forests and saw mills,” the resident told RFA. “There are many in the log mafia, and people here know it well, but they dare not say anything.”

    The resident said it wouldn’t take long for the government to find out what’s going on. Residents of the area say a saw mill in Paksan district in Bolikhamsay province is owned a lady surnamed Nok, who is locally well known as a member of the log mafia.

    “If the officials come inspecting here [district] for a few days, they will know the facts,” the resident said.

    Phongsavanh Pathamavath, head of the log inspection division and director general of the agriculture and forestry department of Bolikhamsay province, declined to give any details.

    Laos has long suffered from the rampant smuggling of logs and timber to neighbors such as China and Vietnam.

    A report by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) leaked online last October revealed huge increases in illegal logging in Laos and suggested government collusion. The report prompted some Lao officials to examine discrepancies in timber export and import figures with China and Vietnam.

    The report found that the value of Lao wood product imports reported by China and Vietnam exceeded that of reported Lao exports more than 10-fold, based on an analysis of Lao customs data.
    It focused on conversion forestry—logging in areas marked for the development of infrastructure projects such as hydropower dams, road building, and mining operations—which is used as an excuse for large-scale logging that otherwise would not be permitted under Lao law. The government has also issued logging quota exceptions in areas where infrastructure projects were being built.

    While the current logging ban may be less than complete, the government has taken steps to reign in the log mafia, seizing eight log trucks in Vientiane and holding them since May 2. In Savannakhet province in central Laos, officials on May 4 seized two trucks of timber, and has keep them in the provincial military headquarters.

    Reported and translated by Ounkeo Souksavanh for RFA's Lao Service. Written in English by Brooks Boliek.


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  7. Ian Bungy

    Ian Bungy Ol'Timer

    Scum of the Earth!
     

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