Savannakhet Province, 16 December 2020 – The United Kingdom Ambassador to Lao PDR, H.E. Mr. John Pearson, and UNDP Deputy Resident Representative, Mme. Catherine Phuong paid a visit to the National Eld’s Deer Sanctuary in Savannakhet province. The Sanctuary was recently established under the SAFE Ecosystems Project implemented by the Department of Forestry of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry with support from UNDP Lao PDR and the Global Environment Facility (GEF).
The SAFE Ecosystems Project is being implemented within the Dry Dipterocarp landscape of five districts within Savannakhet Province engaging local Bru and Katang indigenous communities in support of sustainable forest management and biodiversity conservation. Eld’s deer populations have been in decline and in danger of extinction largely due to human activity in their habitat. Since the project began, it is estimated that this endangered species’ population has increased from between 70-80 animals in 2015 to over 120 currently. Much of the success is attributed to improved protection efforts, community participation and upgrading of the habitat.
This visit by H.E. Mr. John Pearson was particularly meaningful as the UK Government is one of the largest contributors to the Global Environmental Facility. Through this contribution, the UK Government has supported national efforts to protect Savannakhet’s forests and biodiversity. John Pearson said "I am so pleased that the UK is supporting this fantastic project. It is helping to conserve the rare Eld’s deer, and the surrounding ecosystem. And very importantly, it is providing economic opportunities for the local residents".
Mme. Catherine Phuong, who visited Savannakhet province for the first time, emphasized the importance of the project in supporting Government efforts to protect Lao PDR’s forests. She highlighted that "the SAFE Ecosystems Project has been supporting communities within the target area to adopt sustainable agricultural practices aimed at increasing their household incomes and reduce their dependence upon forest products”. She added that “the project will continue to engage communities to utilize their indigenous knowledge in protecting the biodiversity and conserving forests and their associated ecosystems, while continuing to sustain rural livelihoods”.
The project contributes to the implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 15 - Life on Land, targets to combating desertification; restoring degraded land and soil, including land affected by desertification, droughts and floods; and strive to achieve a land degradation-neutral world by 2030.
Both the UK and UNDP look forward to a continued partnership with the Government of Lao PDR and the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry through the Department of Forestry, as well as with the Provincial Government of Savannakhet, to promote and implement sustainable forest management in Savannakhet province.
Funded by the GEF and UNDP, the Sustainable Forest and Land Management in the Dry Dipterocarp Forest Ecosystems of Southern Lao PDR (SAFE Ecosystems) project is jointly implemented by the UNDP Laos and the Department of Forestry of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry.
The project is being implemented in the forested landscape of Savannakhet province in order to secure the critical wildlife habitats, conserve biodiversity and maintain a continuous flow of multiple services through (i) assisting government agencies in developing enabling policy environment, (ii) strengthening resource management of government agencies, local communities and private sector actors, while (iii) developing sustainable financing mechanisms and programs (including ecotourism and livelihood programs) that can ensure the sustainably of land use and resource management approaches.
For more information, please contact:
Mr. Thome Xaisongkham
Programme Analyst, Natural Resource Management and Climate Change
United Nations Development Programme, Lao PDR
Lane Xang Avenue, P.O. Box 345
Vientiane, Lao PDR
Office: +856 21 267 710 EXT: 782
Mobile: +856 20 22234436
Ms. Payolin Razmountry
Policy & Project Support Officer | British Embassy | Vientiane
Rue Yokkabat, Ban Phonexay, Saysettha District, Vientiane, the Lao PDR
Office: +856 30 770 0005
Mobile: +856 20 55 461 136
Fax: +856 30 770 0010