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Resource Use Dynamics and Land-Cover Change in Ang Nhai Village and Phou Phanang National Reserve Forest, Lao PDR


This study integrated aerial photographs from 1952, 1981, and 1998, and a satellite image from 2000 with oral histories and socioeconomic surveys to assess changes in forest and land cover in Ang Nhai village, Laos. The study documents the history of resource use and changes in household access to resources in the village. Three distinctive trends were observed in terms of forest and land cover—forest degradation, deforestation, and regeneration. Project results suggest that land and forest cover change dynamically under different circumstances. The case study also points out that integration into the market economy can induce intensification of unused lowland areas, while removing pressures from upland areas previously used for supplementing agricultural production. In addition, the creation of a national reserve forest to restrict local access and forest use was an ineffective tool for regulating encroachment and logging activities.

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The authors are grateful for the cooperation and support received from the Ang Nhai village leader, who permitted numerous field visits by the research team, and from the village households who agreed to numerous interviews by the research team. We are also indebted to the technical assistance offered by Jeff Fox and John Vogler from the East-West Center, Honolulu, Hawaii, and to the thorough review of our initial draft by Stephen Leisz and Olivia Dun. Finally, we thank our senior colleagues at Chiang Mai University, Thailand, and the Center for Biodiversity and Indigenous Knowledge in Kunming, China, who read our paper and gave us insightful comments, as well as the referees who provided succinct comments for improving the paper.

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Correspondence to Jeff Fox.

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Thongmanivong, S., Fujita, Y. & Fox, J. Resource Use Dynamics and Land-Cover Change in Ang Nhai Village and Phou Phanang National Reserve Forest, Lao PDR. Environmental Management 36, 382–393 (2005).

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  • Land-use/land-cover change
  • Forest degradation
  • Deforestation
  • Regeneration
  • Environmental history
  • Laos