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Vientiane Times, July 5, 2013

Nearly 100 officials from three northern provinces gathered in Luang Prabang province last week to discuss the sustainability of the Nam Et-Phou Louey National Protected Area (NPA), regarded as one of the most important NPAs in Laos.

The annual meeting, organised by the Ministry of National Resources and Environment with support from the Wildlife Conservation Society and the World Bank, aimed to review achievements and the future direction of the 420,000ha protected area.

Clos er cooperation in management, dealing with mining exploration and infrastructure development and expanding the NPA's overall area were three key issues considered by participants.

As the NPA spans Huaphan, Luang Prabang and Xieng Khuang provinces, the meeting was attended by dozens of provincial deputy governors, district chiefs and natural resource and environment officials, as well as representatives from central government and international organisations.

The meeting was co-chaired by Luang Prabang Deputy Governor, Mr Khankham Chanthavisouk, Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, Forestry Management Department Deputy Director General, Mr Saisamone Photisat, and Luang Prabang Department of Natural Resources and Environment's Director, Mr Bounlat Lattanaphoubai.

Mr Khankham said it was important to create awareness about environmental protection among authorities and villagers.

“Providing permanent occupations for local people is also necessary for natural conservation, as is cooperation between related sectors, which is crucial to protect our natural resources,” he said.

Through the meeting, parties agreed to strive for close collaboration between authorities and hold further discussions before any activities or projects could be conducted in the area.

Participants also agreed to appoint a Nam Et-Phou Louey NPA advisory committee, on which the deputy governors would serve as chairmen and other related officials would sit.

In relation to a pla n to extend the area of the NPA by about 900sq km, meeting participants agreed to survey the intended areas and further study the plan's potential impact on villages.

Nam Et-Phou Louey NPA, declared in 1993, is located in the north-east of Laos and covers 129 villages in eight districts of three provinces.

It is mostly hilly or mountainous terrain, is the source of several rivers, and features a high level of biodiversity. The area is home to a number of endangered species, including the tiger, gaur, Sambar deer and white-cheeked gibbon.

The purpose of its creation was to conserve the area's ecosystem and its functions for the future.

International organisations and financial institutions provide assistance to ensure the sustainability of the area.

By Times Reporters 
(Latest Update June 26, 2013)

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