Photo: UN Lao PDR
Vientiane, 31 May 2019 – To mark this year’s Lao National Arbor Day, Director of Planning and Cooperation Division, Department of Forestry, Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry Mr. Phouthone Sophathilath, UN Resident Coordinator Ms. Sara Sekkenes, Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Representative Mr. Nasar Hayat and the Head of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Natural Recourses Management and Climate Change Unit Ms. Margaret Jones Williams planted two young Cassia (Dok Khoun) trees on the UN compound.
“When we see the beautiful yellow flowers of the Dok Khoun tree, we think about Lao New Year. The flowers invoke good fortune and prosperity. But by planting trees today, together with the United Nations we strive to remind ourselves of the importance of trees in Laos, in general: trees clean our air from dangerous pollution, provide oxygen, reduce air-conditioning costs, conserve water, stabilize soil during rainy season, and provide shelter and food for the unique Lao wildlife, and also contribute to combating climate change,” Mr. Sophathilath said.
Based on the Lao Government’s statistics, logging has stripped large areas of the country of its forest since the 1940s, when 70 percent of Lao PDR was covered with trees. By the 1990s, this number decreased to less than 40 percent. Today, forests make up 58 percent of the country.
The main drivers of forest degradation in Lao PDR are wood harvesting, agricultural expansion, hydropower, mining, infrastructure and urban expansion. The lack of people’s awareness on deforestation compounds the problem.
The tree planting ceremony was centered around the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 13 on Climate Action. Ms. Sekkenes stressed the importance of personal contributions to solve a global problem.
“The Sustainable Development Goals apply to all countries, rich or poor. SDG 13 acts as a wakeup call to rally governments around the commitments of the historic Paris Agreement. But we at the United Nations believe that big changes have to start from ourselves, with small steps. By planting a tree on Arbor Day, we would like to make a statement for climate action, on behalf of the breath-taking forests of Lao PDR,” the UN Resident Coordinator said.
Several United Nations agencies and organizations in Lao PDR work together to support the Government in revising its land and forestry laws, advancing national emission reduction policies, replanting forests and promoting eco-tourism to achieve the goals and indicators under SDG 13.
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