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National Report on Protected Areas and Development


National Report CoverDespite being one of the world’s “least developed countries”, Lao PDR has established an extensive set of protected areas designed as an integrated system on sound scientific principles. Only wetlands and lowland forest might be considered underrepresented. Altogether, the protected area system covers more than 21 percent of the land area, one of the largest “land uses” in the country.

Yet, the contributions of both in situ and “exported” benefits of Lao PDR’s protected areas to national development are not well understood or recognised. Consequently, inadequate technical and financial management resources go to preventing an on-going and probably increasing deterioration of important protected area values.

This report emphasises the necessity of adopting “the total economic value” approach to identifying the economic benefits associated with protected areas, instead of focusing only on some of the direct commercial values. It presents a more complete picture of the economic importance of protected areas, and demonstrates the high and wide-ranging economic costs associated with their degradation, which extend far beyond the loss of direct use values.

Currently, protected areas benefits are treated as “free or under-priced” goods and services. Once appropriately valued, the economic justification can be made for increased revenue to flow back to protected areas based on application of the “user pays” principle. Those sectors which benefit should pay for maintaining the protected area goods and services they consume.

While most of the recommendations of this report are presented as sectoral responses, three cross cutting strategies are promoted:

  1. A better use of economic analysis and instruments in integrating PAs in local and national development planning;
  2. Greater collaboration with communities and sectors in rural development planning and management of protected areas; and,
  3. A strengthened and more focused protected area policy and institutional framework.

This national report draws on the results of the Nam Et-Phou Loei field study and builds on the findings of the national lessons learned study.

Click here for full summary



ICEM, 2003. Lao PDR National Report on Protected Areas and Development. Review of Protected Areas and Development in the Lower Mekong River Region, Indooroopilly, Queensland, Australia. 101 pp.
ISBN: 0 975033 22 0




Full report [PDF 1,482 KB]
Report without images [PDF 354 KB]


Full report [PDF 3,220 KB]
Report without images [PDF 1,196 KB]

Thematic maps of Lao PDR's national protected area system

The protected area system [GIF 1000x1180 pixels 154KB]
Protected areas and landuse [GIF 1000x1381 pixels 174KB]
Protected areas, villages and their 10 km zones of influence [GIF 1000x1211 pixels 198 KB]
Protected areas and ecoregions [GIF 1000x1361 pixels 129 KB]
Protected areas and energy use [GIF 1000x1355 pixels 167 KB]
Protected areas and poverty levels [GIF 1000x1301 pixels 146 KB]
Protected areas and population density [GIF 1000x1341 pixels 136 KB]
Protected areas and the wildlife trade [GIF 1000x1404 pixels 159 KB]

Visit the Lao PDR protected area maps page for set of map data sources


Table of contents


PART 1: Biophysical and Demographic Characteristics
  1. Purpose of the Review of Protected Areas and Development
    • Overview
    • Scope and purpose of the ‘National Report on Protected Areas and
  2. Biogeographic and demographic characteristics of Lao PDR
    • Climate
    • Physiography and agro-climatic characteristics
    • Biogeographical characteristics and significance
    • Demographic characteristics
    • Implications for protected areas
PART 2: Economic Development, Governance and Protected Areas
  1. Government administration, reform, economic development and protected areas
    • Governance and administration in Lao PDR
    • Protected area administration
    • Policy framework
  2. Economic structure, management and performance
    • Economic structure and composition
    • Economic management and policy
    • Recent economic trends
    • Implications of economic structure, management and performance for protected areas
Part 3: Natural Resource Management, Planning and Protected Areas
  1. Status, trends and management of natural resources, and implications for
    economic development
    • Overview
    • Land resources
    • Forest
    • Water resources
    • Biodiversity
  2. Protected areas and environmental management
    • National Protected Areas
    • National Protected Areas – management status and strategies
    • Environmental management and protected areas
    • Implications for protected area management
Part 4: Sector Development and Protected Areas
  1. Sector development and protected areas
    • The Total Economic Value approach
    • Forestry and protected areas
    • Water resource management and protected areas
    • Energy and protected areas
    • Agriculture and protected areas
    • Fisheries and protected areas
    • Tourism and protected areas
    • Road development and protected areas
    • Trade, industry and protected areas
Part 5: Protected Areas as Productive Assets for Economic Development
  1. Priorities for action
    • Integrated conservation and development – The local and provincial distinction
    • Capacity constraints and protected area management
    • Donor assistance
    • Hydropower

Abbreviations and acronyms
Annex: Data derivation and sources