Environmental Awareness Raising Activities Conducted by PONRE in Khammouane

On 25-26 May, 2016 the Khammouane Provincial Office for Natural Resources and Environment (PONRE) in cooperation with ProCEEd

conducted its first field activities in Boualapha District. The activities aimed at learning about forest protection and natural disasters. The ProCEEd team comprised three volunteers from PONRE Thakhek and DONRE Boualapha. After a period of planning and preparation, the team put its skills to practice in Dou and Nongbua village. On the first day, a tree planting and care taking activity in Ban Dou was on the program. In cooperation with the village chief and a local teacher, ProCEEd had identified 30 secondary school students for this session. The activity was separated into three different parts: An introduction about the topic of forest protection and natural disasters, the tree planting itself, and a final round of questions and answers to summarize and clarify most important information.


During the session students learned that trees play an important role in their natural environment. Trees absorb carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere and produce the oxygen humans need to breathe. Their roots prevent erosion by holding the soil in place and filter water by removing pollutants. By storing water and helping the soil retain water, trees play an crucial function in natural water management during both dry and wet seasons. Increasingly unpredictable weather patterns and more frequent and violent storms and floods are a reality in most parts of Laos. As trees prevent devastating soil erosion which can contribute to landslides in case of floods, they have never been more important.


But trees provide many other benefits as well. In rural and high-poverty areas, trees improve livelihoods. Their fruits and other non-timber forest products (NTFP) such as nuts or leaves provide a source of food and alternative income generation. In urban areas, trees keep sidewalks shady and buildings cool, and they help reduce noise levels.


The students had carefully fenced off the trees to protect them against goats and cows. The rain which occurred during the planting ceremony was a good sign that the tree seedlings will grow strong in the upcoming months. Finally, small written signs were attached to all trees which mention the name of the tree and the names of the students who will take care of it.

On the second day, a thematic drawing session about forest protection and natural disasters took place, which is a creative way of observing and reflecting nature. The activity focused on younger primary school students, of which 60 boys and girls participated. Again, the session started with an introduction to the topic. Next, students were divided into two groups. One group colored the picture of a wealthy village with intact forests and happy people. The other group colored the image of a village which suffers from the consequences of deforestation. After group work, the images were displayed on the board and compared in plenary. The children jointly identified and named the differences between the two pictures. The ProCEEd team pointed out that floods, erosion and landslides occur more often when and where forests decline. As a result, forest products such as bamboo shoots or mushrooms decline as well so that villagers in particular suffer. Finally, a disaster-related song performed by all the students meant a lot of fun before the closing of the activity.


ProCEEd successfully implemented these first field activities planned and organized at the province level. For the upcoming dry season, to PONRE Khammouane together with ProCEEd intends to implement activities in the target villages near the Hin Nam No National Protected Area.


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