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Authorities assess aftermath of Phou Phanang forest blaze

Sangthong district authorities in Vientiane are assessing the extent of forest destroyed by fire in the Phou Phanang (Phanang Mountain) National Protected Area last week.
District authorities said the official data on losses and further measures to protect forests are still being assessed.
A representative of authorities in charge of controlling forest fires, Captain Amlar Singsamai, told the Pathetlao newspaper that since March 7 fires have destroyed 95 hectares of forest around nine villages near Phou Phanang.

Authorities have been able to bring the fire under control but are now awaiting reports to assess the losses.
Captain Amlar advised villagers living in the area to exercise caution when undertaking slash-and-burn agriculture, which is suspected as being the cause of the fire.
Phou Phanang forest is one of 20 National Protected Areas in Laos which were given this status in 1993, according to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment.
Located about 45 minutes’ drive from Vientiane, this 1,525-square km forested area that runs the length of Sangthong district is facing degra-dation due to a number of factors, including over-use of for-est resources.
The government is working with local authorities to restore degraded forest areas and strengthen forest conservation. Illegal logging in Phou Phanang is seen as a key problem.
Authorities recently issued a bushfire alert as temperatures rose and the country’s forests become drier.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, which is in charge of forest fire management, announced recently that everyone must take steps to prevent fires which occur in the dry season.
The ministry also wants to introduce measures requiring provincial authorities to promote fire prevention strategies amongst local communities, especially those living near wooded areas. 
The Rural Development Agency, a non-profit organisation, is support-ing Nahoi villagers in Sangthong district in their reforestation efforts.
The agency comes under the Participatory Development Training Centre, an organisation empowering rural community-based development that plays a key role in community forest conservation.

By Times Reporters
(Latest Update March 16, 2019)

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