Forest Landscape Rehabilitation in the Mekong River Basin (FORMEB)

Project leader: Dr. Eshetu Yirdaw

Project coordinator: Mr. Dipjoy Chakma

Funding period: 2009 – 2010 and 1.3.2013 – 31.3.2016

Funding source: Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland

Partners: Faculty of Forestry, National University of Laos (FoF/NUoL), Savannakhet University (SKU), Souphanouvong University (SU), University of Forestry, Yezin, Myanmar, Kasetsart University (KUFF, Thailand), Viikki Tropical Resources Institute (VITRI, Finland)

Background

The forests in Laos have vital and multiple functions that provide directly goods and benefits for the local people and communities. Forest products are also important for the national in the country even contributing to substantial export income. Forests also have vital environmental functions, locally for soil and water protection and the maintenance of biodiversity, and also globally by acting as carbon sinks and sources and thus affecting the climate change.

Deforestation, often caused by inappropriate or poorly planned land-use, continues to be a problem in the countries of the Mekong region. However, there are also several local examples in this region on how deforestation can be prevented and how the development of the forest sector can be based on the conservation and sustainable management of the forest resources. Countries in the Mekong region represent vastly different situations as related to forests and their conservation and management. Forest policies as well as forest management and ownership models in the countries are different. The roles of natural forests and forest plantations are also emphasised in different ways in these countries. Both in forest management (for production or conservation purposes) and in forest rehabilitation, well-functioning models are already in place.

As part of the development strategy of Lao PDR, greater emphasis is put in sectors such as energy (including bioenergy), hydropower production, mining and tourism. However, the foreign assistance focuses mostly on some subjects such as drafting of laws, economics analyses and engineering. Administrative and technical support for the national forestry sector is currently given by the SUFORD project (Sustainable Forestry and Rural Development) financed by the World Bank and the Finnish Ministry for Foreign Affairs. However, the forestry education lacks to an extent foreign financial support.

The academic forestry education is very young like most national academic education in Laos PDR. There is a conspicuous need for trained academic staff in forestry in the main university in the country (National University of Laos NUOL), which was established in 1996. A large part of those receiving higher education are recruited to ministries and other national bodies as well as the private sector. At the moment there are just a few doctors of forestry in the country and these were all educated abroad. There is a vital need to strengthen both the M.Sc. and Ph.D. curriculum development in forestry at NUOL. Additionally, there is a need to strengthen also the administrative personnel training for their respective duties at the university.

The objective of the cooperation

The overall objective of the proposed project is the strengthening of the National University of Laos, Faculty of Forestry’s educational performance and enabling it to provide good professionals for improved management and the sustainable use of Lao PDR’s forest resources.

The project purpose is to support the Faculty of Forestry in terms of international collaboration, organization of joint teaching material production and education events, curriculum development, introduction of new teaching methods, and joint supervision of M.Sc. students research with the aim to provide good forestry professionals and academians for the forest sector of Lao PDR.

The proposed project is mainly implemented by (a) organising an intensive training events in Laos for forestry academians and professionals (especially trainers) in the field of forest landscape rehabilitation; (b) promoting the participation of NUoL young staff in intensive training activities organised by VITRI and the Dept. of Forest Sciences in Helsinki; and (c) by strengthening the institutional capacity building in the form of curriculum development, teaching material preparation and new tools for e-learning and networking and new equipments.

FORMEB activities

Proposed activities for 2013-2015

Year Finland Laos
2013 Helsinki Summer School (Designing Sustainable Forest Landscapes) –
5 participants from FoF/NUoL, 2 participants from KUFF
Intensive training course:
“Academic writing and presentation skills” 22 participants
2014 Helsinki Summer School (Designing Sustainable Forest Landscapes) –
3 participants from FoF/NUoL and 2 participants from SKU
Intensive training course:
“Course planning and e-learning”20 participants
2015  Helsinki Summer School (Managing Sustainable Forest Landscapes) 1 guest lecturer from KUFF, Thailand

“TROP210 –Tropical Forest Ecology and Silviculture” Field course in South-East Asia –25 participants

Workshop on “Environmental vulnerability, social resilience and multi-scale governance” in Thakhek, Khammouane (4 FoF, NUoL and 1 SKU staff)

Intensive training course:
”Research proposal writing”
10 participants from (SKU)
3 from (NUoL), 2 from Souphanouvong University (SU), 1 from University of Forestry, Yezin and 2 from Myanmar Forestry Research Institute

 

FORMEB activities