• Lao PDR
  • Lao PDR
Country Overview

Lao PDR harbors a unique and rich biodiversity. Ecosystems of international significance and importance include the wet evergreen forest and montane forests of the Greater Annamites, massive karst formations in central Lao PDR, and large wetland complexes in the plains of the Mekong and its tributaries.

These areas home to numerous endemic, migratory and threatened species, some of which are extinct in some parts of the world but still found in the Lao PDR. Examples include the Asian elephant (Elephas maximus), clouded leopard (Pardofelis nebulosa), gaur (Bos gaurus), saola (Pseudoryx nghetinhensis), gibbons (Hylobates spp., Nomascus spp.), Siamese crocodile (Crocodylus siamensis), Laos Warty Newt (Laotriton laoensis) and the white winged duck (Cairina scutulata). 

Biodiversity in Lao PDR is rich but understudied and poorly understood, with new species still being discovered. To date, 49 Key Biodiversity Areas (KBA) have been delineated, of which approximately 60% are legally protected.

Objectives & Activities

In this context, COMBO aims to assist the Government of Lao PDR in mainstreaming of the mitigation hierarchy by supporting the establishment of appropriate policies, aligned with best international practice, and developing tools and guidance for spatial planning and offset implementation to avoid, mitigate and offset impacts on priority biodiversity.

This includes the following activities, amongst others:

  • Conducting a gap analysis of national and sectoral regulatory and planning documents and guidelines for the implementation of mitigation hierarchy.
  • Identifying, reviewing and carrying out a gap analysis of spatial datasets and decision-making tools available to inform mitigation planning by government and private sector.

The Department of Environment (DoE), Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MONRE) is the main agency responsible for co-leading the implementation of the COMBO+ project with WCS in Lao PDR. Since early 2022, the first draft of COMBO+ MoU has been presented to DOE/MONRE and has been reviewed, updated and resubmitted several times to improve and enhance the objectives and activities in accordance with MONRE-DOE requirements. The latest draft was submitted to MONRE-DOE and WCS Legal Counsel in October 2023 for clearances. It is expected to be signed during the first quarter of 2024.

The project will also engage with other stakeholders including 1). Government agencies which consist of Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Planning and Investment, Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, Ministry of Education and Sports, Ministry of Energy and Mines, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism, Ministry of Public Works and Transport, and the National Assembly; 2). Non-Governmental Organizations such as the Center for Development and Environment (CDE), International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF), Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ), Wildlife Conservation Association (WCA), Saola Foundation; and 3). Private sector and Financial Institutions, for instance the Asian Development Bank (ADB), French Development Agency (AFD), International Finance Corporation (IFC) and World Bank (WB), as well as relevant companies and consultancies from the hydropower, mining, agro-forestry, and tourism sectors.

Resources & Products

“Guide on Responsible Agriculture and Forestry Investment in Lao PDR – A case study for Chinese Investors”.

© Diane Detoeuf/WCS, © Efard Arevr/ WCS