Woodwork Project – Enabling TLAS-compliant, market-oriented, and sustainable wood processing

Jun 6, 2023 | Activities, Workshop


The Lao PDR has taken part in the Lao EU FLEGT VPA process, aimed at increasing the production and export of legal timber and timber products while regulating wood processing operations to ensure compliance with the Laos Timber Legality Assurance System (Laos TLAS) requirements. This process will help combat illegal logging and timber trade and ensure that the country’s remaining natural forests are protected and managed sustainably. To achieve these objectives, there is a need to enhance law enforcement and improve forest governance in accordance with TLAS requirements, which is referred to as “the push measure”. Additionally, there is a need to build the capability of wood processing factories to produce market-niche timber products in an efficient and sustainable manner, which is known as “the pull measure or incentive measure”.

According to a recent ProFEB-Forest for Future co-funded market study, the current capabilities of almost all wood factories in Lao PDR are reportedly below the legal requirements and related international standards. The study identified several deficiencies, including limited availability of sustainable and legally harvested natural timber, outdated wood processing technologies, and poor compliance with legal requirements of the Laos Timber Legality Assurance System (TLAS), particularly those required for setting up the internal management system for timber input and output control.

In response to these deficiencies, the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF) has issued two ministerial decisions regulating wood product legality. These include the Decision on Timber Input and Output Monitoring and Management, No. 1045/MAF, and the Decision on Wood Processing Industries, No. 1044/MAF. However, there are still challenges related to organizational and institutional capacity, particularly in terms of human resources, standard training materials, and training facilities, which are needed to effectively disseminate and enforce the legislation.

Various training schemes have been implemented in Laos to address these challenges, and there is potential to develop collaborations to build common synergy. In particular, the FAO EU FLEGT Program has provided long-lasting support to the MAF in the development and rollout of Decision No. 1044/MAF, which aims to strengthen the capacity of wood processing enterprises and government verification authorities in implementing the decision. Additionally, the support provided by the ITC Arise+ program under the newly developed wood processing roadmap, which includes training materials and advice, is highly relevant.

Moreover, the ongoing support from the ACIAR project “Value-adding to Lao Plantation Timber Products (VALTIP)” to rebuild the Wood Processing Research and Training Center (WRTC) of the National University of Laos (NUoL) is considered a solid foundation for building and strengthening related capacities in a sustainable manner. To implement this service package, the WRTC has agreed to serve as a training facility, while ACIAR has agreed to collaborate and share resources in syllabus development and related research results. These efforts are expected to contribute to improving the institutional and organizational capacity for the effective dissemination and enforcement of legislation related to wood products in Laos.

The Institute of Vocational Education Development (IVED), which is part of the Ministry of Education, is a key government partner that has expressed interest in collaborating on syllabus development, institutionalization, and training of trainers (TOT) related to wood product regulation. Recently, IVED signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Vetsaphong Technical Vocational School, which has also shown interest in participating in the Champion Operator Network (CONet) planned to pilot the training package. By working together, these institutions and networks can contribute to building the necessary skills and capacities to effectively implement wood product regulation in Laos.

To effectively implement the Lao Timber Legality Assurance System (TLAS), ProFEB, in collaboration with VALTIP3 and FAO, has developed and piloted training packages in Woodwork Projects. The project advisory committee endorsed both ordinary and pedagogical Training of Trainers (TOT) programs during a meeting held from November 29 to December 1, 2022, in Vangvieng, Vientiane Province.

The Faculty of Forestry Sciences (FFS) orchestrated an ordinary training course for 16 trainers handpicked from four provinces, namely Luang Prabang, Bolikhamxay, Vientiane Province, and Vientiane Capital. The trainers were selected after the successful completion of TOT ordinary and didactic training. Subsequently, these trainers conducted a pilot trial of the curriculum and training package for administrators and technical staff, including teachers at educational and vocational training institutions, and service managers such as production lines and service technical facilities in the aforementioned provinces.

On 12th May 2023, the Advisory Committee meeting was conducted under the able guidance of Prof. Ph.D. Latsamy Boupha, the esteemed Dean of the Faculty of Forestry Sciences (FFS), NUoL. The meeting was attended by Mr. Khamfeua Sirivongs, Deputy Director of the Department of Forestry Inspection, Mr. Tobias Goedde, GIZ ProFEB FLEGT Team Leader, and 20 participants from relevant government, private sector, and academia. The objective of the meeting was to oversee the implementation of the Woodwork Project and deliberate on and endorse the curriculum and training package for ordinary and didactic training programs. Furthermore, the meeting provided an opportunity to recognize and award certificates of completion to 16 trainers who had successfully completed the ordinary and didactic training programs. The meeting concluded with the chair acknowledging the financial and technical support provided by ProFEB and expressing gratitude for their continued support in the future.