69.9% —or about 16,142,000 hectares—of Lao People's Democratic Republic is forested. Of this, 9.2% —or roughly 1,490,000 hectares—is classified as primary forest, the most biodiverse form of forest.

Change in Forest Cover: Between 1990 and 2000, Lao People's Democratic Republic lost an average of 78,200 hectares of forest per year. The amounts to an average annual deforestation rate of 0.45%. Between 2000 and 2005, the rate of forest change increased by 4.5% to 0.47% per annum. In total, between 1990 and 2005, Lao People's Democratic Republic lost 6.8% of its forest cover, or around 1,172,000 hectares. Measuring the total rate of habitat conversion (defined as change in forest area plus change in woodland area minus net plantation expansion) for the 1990-2005 interval, Lao People's Democratic Republic gained 1.9% of its forest and woodland habitat.

Biodiversity and Protected Areas: Lao People's Dem Rep is home to at least 8286 species of vascular plants. 0.0% of Lao People's Dem Rep is protected under IUCN categories I-V.

Lao P.D.R. Environmental profile


Laos: Forest Cover, 2005
Total Land Area (ha)23,080,000
Total Forest Area (ha)16,142,000
Percent Forest Cover69.94%
Primary Forest Cover (ha)1,490,000
Primary Forest, % total forest9.23%
Primary Forest, % total land6.46%
Other wooded land (ha)4,643,000

Laos: Forest types
Tropical (% forest area)100%
Subtropical (% forest area)0%
Temperate (% forest area)0%
Boreal/polar (% forest area)0%

Laos: Breakdown of forest types, 2005
Primary forest (ha | %)1,490,0009.2%
Modified natural (ha | %)14,428,00089.4%
Semi-natural (ha | %)--
Production plantation (ha | %)223,0001.4%
Production plantation (ha | %)1,0000.0%

Laos: Change in Forest Cover
Forest 1990 (ha)17,314,000
Forest 2000 (ha)16,532,000
Forest 2005 (ha)16,142,000
Annual Change 1990-2000 (ha | %)(78,200)-0.45%
Annual Change 2000-2005 (ha | %)(78,000)-0.47%
Total Change 1990-2005 (ha | %)(1,172,000)-6.77%
Change in rate (%)4.46%
Primary 1990 (ha)1,490,000
Primary 2000 (ha)1,490,000
Primary 2005 (ha)1,490,000
Annual Change 1990-2000 (ha | %)-0.00%
Annual Change 2000-2005 (ha | %)-0.00%
Total Change 1990-2005 (ha | %)-0.00%
Change in rate (%)#DIV/0!
Other 1990 (ha)2,875,000
Other 2000 (ha)4,053,000
Other 2005 (ha)4,643,000
Annual Change 1990-2000 (ha | %)117,8004.10%
Annual Change 2000-2005 (ha | %)118,0002.91%
Total Change 1990-2005 (ha | %)1,768,00061.50%
Change in rate (%)-28.94%
Other 1990 (ha)4,000
Other 2000 (ha)99,000
Other 2005 (ha)224,000
Annual Change 1990-2000 (ha | %)9,500237.50%
Annual Change 2000-2005 (ha | %)25,00025.25%
Total Change 1990-2005 (ha | %)220,0005500.00%
Change in rate (%)-89.37%
Forest area+Wooded Area-Plantations
Other 1990 (ha)20,185,000
Other 2000 (ha)20,486,000
Other 2005 (ha)20,561,000
Annual Change 1990-2000 (ha | %)30,1000.15%
Annual Change 2000-2005 (ha | %)15,0000.07%
Total Change 1990-2005 (ha | %)376,0001.86%
Change in rate (%)-50.90%

Laos: Primary
Primary or "old-growth" vegetation
Primary Forest 2005 (ha)1,490,000
Other primary wooded land 2005 (ha)-
Other primary wooded land 2005 (ha)1,490,000
Undisturbed vegetation 2005 (% land area)6.46%

Laos: Forest designation
Ownership of forest land, 2000
Public (%)100.0%
Private (%)0.0%
Other (%)0.0%
Ownership of other wooded land, 2000
Public (%)100.0%
Private (%)0.0%
Other (%)0.0%
Designated functions of forest – primary function 2005
Production (%)21.6%
Protection (%)54.7%
Conservation (%)23.5%
Social Services (%)0.2%
Multiple Services (%)-
None of Unknown (%)-

Laos: Disturbances affecting forest land 2000
Forest Area annually affected by
Fire (%)0.60%
Insects (ha)-
Diseases (ha)-
Other (ha)-

Lao People's Dem Rep: Protected areas
Protected areas
Biosphere reserves, 2005
Wetlands of international importance (Ramsar sites), 20050
World Heritage sites, 20042
Protected Areas: IUCN categories I-V, percent of total land0.0%
Protected Areas: IUCN categories Ia, Ib, and II, extent, percent of total land0.00%
Protected Areas: IUCN categories III, IV, and V, percent of total land, 20040.00%
Protected Areas: IUCN categories VI and other, percent of total land, 200415.78%

Lao People's Dem Rep: Biodiversity - Wildlife
total species
endemic species1
threatened species4
total species
endemic species7
threatened species21
total species
endemic species1
threatened species30
total species
endemic species1
threatened species11
Wildlife diversity
total species-
endemic species10
threatened species66

Laos: Biodiversity - Plants
Growing stock composition
3 most common species
% of total growing stock
Growing stock composition
3 most common species
% of total growing stock
Number of Native tree species
Native tree species1,457
Number of tree species in IUCN red list
Critically Endangered5
Vascular Plant Species, 2004
Number endemic19
Number of Threatened Plant Species, 2004
Species threatened0

Laos: Value of forests
Biomass stock in forest, 2005
Above-ground biomass (M t)2,342
Below-ground biomass (M t)632
Dead wood (M t)327
Total (M t)3,301
Carbon stock in forest, 2005
Carbon in above-ground biomass (M t)1,171
Carbon in below-ground biomass (M t)316
Carbon in dead wood (M t)164
Carbon in litter (M t)34
Soil carbon (M t)-
Change in growing stock 1990 - 2005
Annual change rate (1000 cubic m/yr)
Growing stock per hectare 1990 - 2005
Annual change rate ( cubic m/ha per yr)
Wood removal 2005
Industrial roundwood (1000 cubic m)682
Wood fuel (1000 cubic m)6,742
Total wood removal 2005 (1000 cubic m)7,424
Total wood removal 2005 (% of growing stock)1
Plant products 2005
Food (t)-
Fodder (t)-
Raw material for medicine and aromatic products (t)-
Raw material for colorants and dyes (t)-
Raw material for utensils, handicrafts & construction (t)-
Ornamental plants (t)-
Exudates (t)-
Other plant products (t)-
Animal products 2005
Living animals (units)-
Hides, skins and trophies (units)-
Wild honey and bee-wax (t)-
Bush meat (t)-
Raw material for medicine and aromatic products (t)-
Raw material for colorants and dyes (t)-
Other edible animal products (t)-
Other non-edible animal products (t)-
Value of wood and non-wood forest product removal 2005
Industrial roundwood (US$)$40,931,000
Wood fuel (US$)$20,226,000
Non-wood forest products (US$)-
Total value (US$)$61,157,000
Total value ($USD/ha)$4
Employment in forestry 2000
Total people employed4,000

Laos: Production, trade and consumption of forest products, 2002
Woodfuel ('000 cubic m), 2002
Industrial roundwood ('000 cubic m), 2002
Sawnwood ('000 cubic m), 2002
Wood-based panels ('000 cubic m), 2002
Pulp for paper ('000 metric tons), 2002
Paper and paperboard ('000 metric tons), 2002
Laos: Environment
Environment - current issuesunexploded ordnance; deforestation; soil erosion; most of the population does not have access to potable water
Environment - international agreementsparty to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
Natural hazardsfloods, droughts

Laos: Land use / Resources
Land use (%)arable land: 3.8%
permanent crops: 0.35%
other: 95.85% (2001)
Natural resourcestimber, hydropower, gypsum, tin, gold, gemstones

Laos: Economy
Economy - overview:The government of Laos, one of the few remaining official Communist states, began decentralizing control and encouraging private enterprise in 1986. The results, starting from an extremely low base, were striking - growth averaged 6% in 1988-2004 except during the short-lived drop caused by the Asian financial crisis beginning in 1997. Despite this high growth rate, Laos remains a country with a primitive infrastructure. It has no railroads, a rudimentary road system, and limited external and internal telecommunications, though the government is sponsoring major improvements in the road system with possible support from Japan. Electricity is available in only a few urban areas. Subsistence agriculture, dominated by rice, accounts for half of GDP and provides 80% of total employment. The economy will continue to benefit from aid from the IMF and other international sources and from new foreign investment in food processing and mining. Construction will be another strong economic driver, especially as hydroelectric dam and road projects gain steam. In late 2004, Laos gained Normal Trade Relations status with the US, allowing Laos-based producers to face lower tariffs on exports. This may help spur growth. In addition, the European Union has agreed to provide $1 million to the Lao government for technical assistance in preparations for WTO membership. If the avian flu worsens and spreads in the region, however, prospects for tourism could dim.
GDP - per capita$1,900 (2005 est.)
GDP - real growth rate (%)7.2% (2005 est.)
Agriculture - productssweet potatoes, vegetables, corn, coffee, sugarcane, tobacco, cotton, tea, peanuts, rice, water buffalo, pigs, cattle, poultry
GDP - composition by sector (%)agriculture: 48.6%, industry: 25.9%, services: 25.5% (2005 est.)
Industries copper, tin, and gypsum mining, timber, electric power, agricultural processing, construction, garments, tourism, cement
Economic aid - recipient$243 million (2001 est.)
Debt - external$2.49 billion (2001)
Population below poverty line (%)40% (2002 est.)
Labor force - by occupation (%)agriculture 80% (1997 est.)

Laos: Population / Demographics
Population (July 2005)6,217,141
Population growth rate (%) (2005)2.42%
Population density (people/sq km) (2005)26.9
Median age (years)total: 18.74 years
Total fertility rate (children born/woman)4.77 (2005 est.)
Ethnic groups (%)Lao Loum (lowland) 68%, Lao Theung (upland) 22%, Lao Soung (highland) including the Hmong and the Yao 9%, ethnic Vietnamese/Chinese 1%

Largest Cities in Laos

Cities and urban areas in Laos with population over 100,000 All figures are estimates for 2002.

CityCountryCity PopulationUrban Area Population
Luang PrabangLaos119800119800

 Environment, Land use / Resources, Economy, Population / Demographics, Infrastructure, Health -- CIA World Factbook, 2005
 Forest Cover, Forest types, Breakdown of forest types, Change in Forest Cover, Primary forests, Forest designation, Disturbances affecting forest land, Value of forests, Production, trade and consumption of forest products -- The FOOD AND AGRICULTURE ORGANIZATION OF THE UNITED NATIONS's Global Forest Resources Assessment (2005) and the State of the World’s Forests (2005, 2003, 2001)
 Protected Areas, Plant and animal biodiversity -- United Nations Environment Programme - World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC). 2004. World Database on Protected Areas.
 Biosphere reservers -- United Nations Education, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) - Man and Biosphere Program. 2004. UNESCO - MAB Biosphere Reserves Directory.
 RAMSAR sites -- The Bureau of the Convention on Wetlands . 2005. The Ramsar List of Wetlands of International Importance.
 World Resources Institute's EarthTrends web site
 The 2004 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species
 Population Data -- United Nations Population Fund
 With additional analysis by Rhett Butler of

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