Laos, with its dense jungles, lush green rice fields, misty mountaintops, and flowing Mekong River -- the “mother” of rivers -- is a place of stunning natural beauty. Its forests and waters are also home to some of the greatest bio-diversity in all of Southeast Asia. But as development continues at a rapid pace, the environment in Laos is increasingly threatened.
Helping the people of Laos develop their economy and raise their standard of living, while at the same time preserving and protecting the country's incredible natural resources, has been a top priority of Embassy Vientiane.
In the past year, the Embassy has worked with the multiple government ministries, international development organizations, local NGOs, community groups, and other stakeholders on multiple different conservation projects. These include:
• Cooperating with the World Bank and EU to protect the last tiger habitat in Indochina from encroaching road construction.
• Providing assistance to the Lao Government to train park rangers and develop sustainable forestry projects.
• Working with the Wildlife Conservation Society to reduce illegal poaching and preserve endangered species in the Nam Et Phu Luey National Protected Area.
• Arranging a speaking tour for Jamie Henn, director of the climate change awareness program for 350.org, focused on environmental protection and climate change.
• Supporting the creation of the illegal wildlife trade campaign, which was inaugurated to great fanfare at Laos' annual Elephant Festival in 2010.
• Supporting the first ever clean cookstove workshop in Laos.
• Organizing Earth Day 2011 activities for more than 200 students.
These projects have helped keep the issue of environmentally sustainable growth front and center as Laos undergoes dramatic economic changes.