Comprehensive Analysis of Trajectories of Change in the Uplands.

Exploring pathways to sustainable development in the uplands of
Lao PDR.

Activity B2: Impact of land policies on natural resources management

Rationale Objectives Methods Results Partnerships

    Land policies (e.g. land use planning, land allocation, population resettlement, land concessions, protected areas) are considered as a major instrument of the government of Lao PDR (GoL) for economic development, poverty alleviation and environmental protection, which are the three pillars of sustainable development. However, the large diversity of land zoning and land use planning efforts and the pace at which new concepts and procedures are developed raise important questions regarding possible contradictions and conflicts between the different approaches proposed, their actual implementation in the field and the consequences of superimposed land use planning policies for landscapes and livelihoods.

    • To prioritize the issues related to the design and implementation of land policies in Lao PDR uplands based on a network of district pilot sites, and comparative analysis with other case studies and literature review,

    • To understand the mechanisms of influence of land policies on management of natural resources at local, regional and global levels, and their consequences for the development of mountainous areas in northern Lao PDR,

    • To provide guidance to land policy interventions by taking into account the trade-offs between the three dimensions of sustainable development: economic, social and environmental.

    1. Literature review

    A literature review cover a 20-year period, starting from the early 1990s' experimentations of the LUPLA programme in Luang Prabang and Sayaboury provinces. A series of semi-structured interviews have be conducted with key informants (e.g. state agents and planners at the central, provincial and district levels, project officers, NGO representatives) in order to:

    • clarify issues raised by the literature review,
    • gain insights into the land use planning concepts and procedures that are currently being developed/experimented in Laos,

    • examine questions related to the implementation of land use planning and its monitoring by province and district-level state agents.

    2. Case studies

    A limited number of village case studies have be conducted in Luang Prabang province where LUPLA has a long history. Through interviews and rapid questionnaire surveys with villagers and district staff, the study:

    • highlights inter-village differences in terms of implementation, socio-environmental outcomes and monitoring of LUPLA,

    • draws causal links between the latter differences and land use planning efforts,

    • highlights potential gaps between land policy implementation framework (e.g. PLUP guideline) and actual implementation (constrained by available financial and human resources and by the understanding/perception of the PLUP process by different stakeholders).

    3. Comparative analysis, synthesizing and reporting

    The information from different sources was synthesized and reported in scientific publications and communication to conferences. The documents assess the different land use planning policies currently applied/developed in Laos and reflect on their possible improvements, especially in relation with participation, integration (across scales and institutions), and impact monitoring.

    • Empirical evidences about the local impact of land policies on natural resource management and a broader view provided by the comparative analysis of case study sites,

    • Contribution to on-going debates about the design and implementation of land policies to mitigate potential negative impacts on poverty, land degradation and deforestation,

    • Publications in scientific journals and contribution to national and international conferences; capacity building of project staff in policy research.

    The research was part of the Biodiversity Monitoring component of the Landscape Mosaics Project, founded by SDC and managed by CIFOR in partnership with NAFRI. A specific action-research was funded by NAFRI/URDP to support the implementation of participatory land use planning in our target areas in Viengkham District.


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Forest transitions in Southeast Asia: Synergies and shortcomings in land-change science and political ecology

Lestrelin G., Castella J.C., Fox J.

In: C. Braanstrom and J. Vadjunec eds., Land-Change Science and Political Ecology for Sustainability. Synergies and Divergences, Earthscan, London, pp. 48-65.

2013 - Books



Territorializing sustainable development: The politics of land-use planning in the Lao PDR

Lestrelin G., Castella J.C., Bourgoin J.

Journal of Contemporary Asia, 42(4): 581-602.

2012 - Scientific Articles



Monitoring participatory land use planning for better impact on landscapes and livelihoods. Case studies in Nambor, Sobchia and Pakhok villages, Phonxay district, Luang Prabang province

Bouahom B., Bourgoin J., Lestrelin G., Castella J.C.

Lao Journal of Agriculture and Forestry, 23: 145-160

2011 - Scientific Articles



Evolving relations between agriculture and forest in Viengkham District, Luang Prabang Province

Castella J.C., Thephavanh M., Vongkhamsao V., Mouaxengcha K., Phonphakdy S., Fitriana Y.R., Kongay K., Phaipasith S., Ferrand J., Manivanh V., Pfund J.L.

Lao Journal of Agriculture and Forestry, 23: 61-89

2011 - Scientific Articles



Rethinking state-ethnic minority relations in Lao PDR: Internal resettlement, land reform and counter-territorialization

Lestrelin G.

Political Geography 30 (6):311-319

2011 - Scientific Articles



Measuring participation: Case studies on village land use planning in northern Lao PDR

Lestrelin G., Bourgoin J., Bouahom B., Castella J.C.

Applied Geography 31: 950-958

2011 - Scientific Articles



Territorialising sustainable development: The politics of land-use planning in the Lao PDR

Lestrelin G., Castella J.C., Bourgoin J.

13th Biennial Conference of the International Association for the Study of the Commons, 10-14 January 2011, Hyderabad, India

2011 - Conferences



'Where has my participation gone?' Case studies on village land-use planning in northern Lao PDR

Lestrelin G., Bourgoin J., Bouahom B., Castella J.C.

Communication to the International meeting of the Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation 19-23 July 2010 - Bali, Indonesia

2010 - Conferences



How does land use planning influence livelihood systems? Phonxay District, Luang Prabang Province, Lao PDR.

Bouahom B., Bourgoin J., Lestrelin G., Castella J.C.

Catch-Up Program, NAFRI-IRD-CIFOR, Vientiane

2010 - Posters



Emerging tensions from village relocation in Sopchia Kumban, Phonxay District, Luang Prabang Province, Lao PDR

Bouahom B., Bourgoin J., Lestrelin G., Castella J.C.

Catch-Up Program, NAFRI-IRD-CIFOR, Vientiane

2010 - Posters



The impacts of land policy on livelihood. Case study: Phonxay district, Luang Prabang province, Lao PDR

Bouahom B.

MSc Dissertation. IMAS in Development Studies, University of Geneva, Switzerland

2010 - Student Dissertation