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Illegal logging continues to thrive in Lao

Illegal logging has topped a list of Lao’s fraud or economic-related cases for 2013 according to state-run daily Vientiane Times. Source: Shanghai Daily

Throughout 2013 there were 257 instances of crime relating to the illegal trade of wood and wood products equal to about 46% of all fraud or economic related cases.

According to a Ministry of Public Security publication, officers registered 559 fraud or economic related cases throughout 2013, an increase of 311 cases or 61.22% on 2012.

According to the Ministry of Public Security, prosecution has concluded for 79.42% of the total cases with the rest being prosecuted currently.

Officials were able to recover cash from the cases amounting to more than 4.4 billion Lao kip (US$550,000) including large amounts of Thai baht and US dollars.

Additionall, 20 vehicles, 671,000 cubic meters of processed wood, 4.5 million cubic meters of logs, 15 chainsaws and three motorbikes were seized by police.

Observers say that the illegal trade of wood topping the list of economic related cases highlights the fact that illegal logging continues to plague the country.

Recently the Lao government launched a program to encourage the modernization of timber processing factories.

The move hopes to make timber factories easier for authorities to inspect as well as ensuring that businesses meet the strict standards for the export of wood and timber products.

Laos has 24 protected national forest areas that cover an area of approximately 3.8 million hectares.

On the provincial level there is an additional 4.7 million hectares of protected land.

In 1940 approximately 70% of the country was covered in forest but that number deteriorated to 47% in 1992 and again to 42% in 2010.