Image Database Export Citations


When 'Conservation' Leads to Land Degradation: Lessons from Ban Lak Sip, Laos

Show full item record

Type: Working Paper
Author: Lestrelin, Guillaume; Giordano, Mark; Keohavong, Bounmy
Date: 2005
Agency: International Water Management Institute (IWMI), Colombo, Sri Lanka
Series: IWMI Research Report no. 91
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/4514
Sector: Land Tenure & Use
Region: East Asia
Subject(s): land degradation
environmental policy
political economy
population growth
Abstract: "Despite explicit policy aimed at improving environmental conditions, direct physical evidence as well as indirect indications suggest that land degradation is increasing in Ban Lak Sip, a village located in the uplands of Luang Prabang Province of Laos. While the direct cause of degradation on village land appears related to current farming systems, resolving the problem in Ban Lak Sip and avoiding it elsewhere requires knowledge of the processes that have led to the choice of those systems--systems markedly different from those in existence two decades earlier. In this report, we test the hypothesis that the primary factors behind the farming system changes in Ban Lak Sip lay not in the village itself but rather in the broader Laotian social, economic and political setting. The study uses an integrated approach that examines both the physical and social dimensions of land use and soil erosion in Ban Lak Sip within this broader system environment. The results suggest that while the proximate causes of degradation in Ban Lak Sip are current agronomic practices, the ultimate causes are primarily related to changes in national settlement and land use policies. Ironically, these policies, which aim in part to protect the environment and to conserve land resources, have in fact artificially decreased agricultural land availability and made farming practices unsustainable under current conditions. This finding has significant implications for the formulation of environmental policy, the selection of interventions to mitigate land degradation, and for land degradation research more widely."

Files in this item

Files Size Format View
RR91.pdf 797.0Kb PDF View/Open

This item appears in the following document type(s)

Show full item record