Recap of the SAFE Project (AFoCO/041/2023) 2nd Technical Workshop in Lao PDR

Vientiane, Lao PDR – March 19 to 23, 2024 – AFoCO successfully concluded its 2nd Technical Workshop of Output 1 for the “Sustaining an Abundance of Forest and Ecosystems (SAFE) ” Project, with a focus on advancing the expansion of healthy, resilient, and sustainably managed natural forests.

The 2nd Technical Workshop aimed to facilitate thorough comprehensive discussions and decision-making processes crucial for reassessing the finalized baseline report, reviewing and discussing Draft Country-Level Implementation Plans, and conducting Project Site Visit and Discussions.

Attended by twenty distinguished individuals, including forestry officials from the Department of Forestry in Lao PDR, staff from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), consultants affiliated with the SAFE project, and the AFoCO Secretariat, the event provided a platform for collaborative engagement and strategic planning.  

The initial day of the workshop commenced with an opening session highlighting the project’s current status and advancements, led by the SAFE Project Manager and AFoCO Secretariat. This set the stage for a detailed presentation and discourse on the baseline report by the lead consultant. Subsequently, In-country consultants presented their respective Country-level Implementation Plans, initiating robust discussions and analysis.

Throughout the day, participants engaged in thoughtful exchanges, reviewing the Implementation Plans and offering constructive feedback. The workshop reached its zenith with a plenary discussion, fostering collective reflection and strategic deliberations. Here, stakeholders shared valuable insights, experiences, and recommendations, facilitating alignment and collaboration among project participants.

On the final day of the workshop, participants embarked on a field trip to the project site, Dong Pa Tae Conservation Area. The itinerary encompassed a visit to the conservation area itself, as well as Xor Village adjacent to the project site, and a meeting with the Sangthong District Governor, providing a comprehensive understanding of the project’s environment and stakeholder landscape.

Upon arrival at the project site, the delegation received a detailed briefing on current ecological status. It became apparent that invasive bamboo species have proliferated, affecting approximately 70% of the conservation area. In response, there are plans to initiate restoration efforts using species listed on the IUCN Red List to rejuvenate and preserve the natural biodiversity. After the informative briefing, participants engaged in a meaningful meeting with local village leaders and the District Governor, where discussions revolved around various pivotal aspects crucial for the successful execution of the SAFE Project. These meetings emphasized the collaborative approach necessary for the project’s success.

with Sangthong District Governor

In conclusion, the 2nd Technical Workshop marked a critical step in transitioning the SAFE Initiative from planning to action. By harnessing the collective expertise, experiences, and resources of all partners involved, the workshop laid a solid foundation for meaningful impact on forest conservation and restoration efforts in the implementing countries. The extensive discussions, strategic planning sessions, and field visit underscored the commitment to tangible results and collaborative approaches.

Submitted by Ms. Minyoung Jeong, Assistant Program Officer

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