Local People Participation in Xepian National Protected Area Management

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Soupany Sylipoungno Sithong Thongmanivong Kaisone Phengsopha Houngphet Chanthavong Thoumthone Vongvisouk

Abstract

Laos is one of the least developed country, where previously economic development was highly depending on natural resources. Natural forest resources are important for national economic development and for livelihoods of local people. This impacts on deforestation and forest degradation. In order to put an end to deforestation and forest degradation in Laos and help improving livelihoods of local people, the government of Laos initiated establishment national protected area (NPA) in the country in early 1990s. These include XepianNPA. However, during this period, the NPA was just a protected area in the paper, which not effectively managed due to lack of resources. Since early 2000s, international organizations (i.e. IUCN, WB, WWF, etc.) have supported for management the Xepian NPA. At the present, the protected area is rankedas one of the high biodiversity conservation value NPA in Laos. This study examines how local people participate in management of the protected area in better promising way; by using group discussion, interview individual governmental staff at the national, provincial and district levels; as well as interviews local villagers and project staff at the NPA administrative office in Champasak province.
The results of the study show that the participation of local people for management of the protected area is varying and depending on case-by-case basic. People in the villages inside the NPA seemed to more actively participate than those who are living in the villages that located close to buffer zone and control-use-zone of the NPA. One of the reasons is that NPA administrative authorities provide strongly support and disseminate related legislation to people living inside the NPA rather than people in the villages that located outside of the NPA. Activities that local people participation include forest management, none-timber forest project management, wildlife management, management of water sources, forest reforestation and ecotourism activities. Local people receive both direct and indirect benefits from participating the activities. Direct benefits include cash payment when they join the activities while indirect benefits include, but not limited to, the sustainable uses of forest resources for their daily livelihoods and for their new generation. Thus, incentive provision and legislation dissemination are important in inspiring local people to participate in forest management in the state forest areas such as NPAs.

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Section
Journal of Humanities and Social Sciences