One year after the official project launch, the FLOURISH project held its second regional workshop and advisory board meeting from 04 to 06 June 2019. During this 3-days event, the partners and stakeholders from the three project landscape in Laos, Thailand and Vietnam gathered together at the RECOFTC (The Center for People and Forests) headquarters in Bangkok.
Updating each other on progress made over the first year inception phase, discussing how to cope with emerging challenges and jointly planning activities were the main activities during the first two days. The country teams presented their results from the recently completed baseline studies and provided an overview on what they are planning to do in the years ahead for promoting community-private sector partnerships that stimulate forest landscape restoration. During the third workshop day, the project team received feedback from the project advisory board consisting of stakeholders from the private sector, local governments and NGOs.
In Laos, where the project operates in Sayabouri and Bokeo provinces, it is planned to promote teak cooperatives, enhance land tenure rights of teak smallholders, improve silviculture techniques and make harvesting more efficient. Working together in cooperatives is expected to add value to teak stands, better link growers to processors looking for stable supply and strengthen their bargaining power in the market. In Vietnam, acacia growers and bamboo collectors in Nghe An province will be linked up to the nascent private processing sector looking for stable supply as precondition to upgrade its production portfolio towards high-value products for international markets. In Thailand, currently ongoing institutional reforms in land use and tenure rights open up new opportunities for communities and smallholders to engage in commercialized forestry. In Nan province, the project will therefore promote the integration of woodlots (e.g. teak) in existing farming systems to facilitate the shift away from mono-culture corn to more diversified, integrated farming system.
During the workshop potential research topics to be taken up by TU Dresden were discussed in a longer session on “research and communication”. Most notably, the question of how to effectively promote tree growers’ groups and cooperatives turned out to be of high relevance in all three countries. Moreover, the TU Dresden initiated study on Lao’s teak industry in transition was well received by the project partners. Beyond the growers’ domain, for the project it is critical to understand the private sector’s needs and how the government-imposed export ban of logs and semi-products is impacting on it. The same holds true for engaging with the Tree Bank movement in Thailand, where TU Dresden will conduct research on the use of trees as a loan collateral in the wake of relaxing forestry restrictions.
By Dr. Simon Benedikter (FLOURISH research coordinator)