VIENTIANE, May 30 (Xinhua) -- Forest cover in Laos is expected to increase to 68 percent of the country's land area by 2020, slightly below the target of 70 percent, the latest report on the matter suggests.
A 2015 survey revealed that forest cover stood at 58 percent in Laos. With an annual average increase of two percent, forest cover could rise to 68 percent by 2020, local daily Vientiane Times on Thursday quoted a report from Lao Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry as saying.
Authorities have already allocated the area predicted to be forested when the 68 percent projection is achieved. The expected 16.28 million hectares will comprise three categories of forest, conservation forest (4.816 million hectares), protected forest (7.9 million hectares), and production forest (3.1 million hectares). An additional 480,000 hectares will be planted with industrial trees.
To achieve the 70 percent target, the authorities need to allocate additional forest cover on the remaining 2 percent or 473,600 hectares.
Three main measures were identified in the National Forest Strategy that was promulgated in 2005 to achieve the 70 percent target.
They aimed to rehabilitate 6 million hectares of degraded forest, plant industrial trees on 500,000 hectares, and protect existing forests from further logging.
Action has been taken to protect degraded forests, which enabled them to regrow or rehabilitate naturally on more than 3.2 million hectares, representing 54 percent of the total. Industrial trees have been planted by individuals and businesses on 484,800 hectares. They include rubber, eucalyptus, teak, and agarwood, according to the report.
The Lao government has also intensified action to protect forests and close loopholes for illegal logging.