Land cover 2002    

This map shows the results of a forest and land cover inventory carried out by the Forestry Department of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry and published in 2005 (GOL, 2005 (a)).  The inventory captured the situation in 2002 and involved the interpretation SPOT satellite images at scales of 1:50 000 and 1:100 000, forest and land use mapping, and field verification.

The results showed that in 2002 41.5% of the entire country (or 9.8 million hectares including plantation forests) was under forest cover. Other land cover included: swidden agricultural fields or “hai” (2.2%), permanent agriculture (5%), grassland (2.4%), and urban areas (0.6%). 42% of the land area has been classified as ‘unstocked forests’ comprising areas that were previously forested but due to logging, shifting cultivation or other disturbances have now a very low crown density.

The map reveals an interesting spatial pattern. Moving from the north to the south we see an increase in the sizes of both the forest and permanent agricultural areas, but in the northern regions it is clear that there are more swidden agricultural landscapes which include ‘hai’ and fallow land that has been classified as ‘unstocked forests’ or ‘scrubland’. The results of the forest inventory support this observation: in the north, dense forest cover amounted to 27.9%, whereas in the central region it was at 46.1% and in the south reached as much as 56.5%.

Permanent agriculture shows a pattern that on the one hand follows the higher ecological and topographical potential of the plains along the Mekong River and on the other hand an increase in permanent agriculture following a gradient of accessibility to the urban and more populated regions. A comparison of the diversity of farming systems with the map showing ethnic diversity in section F is also of interest. Moreover, the land cover in the province of Huaphanh is of interest. Here there is a relatively high percentage of forest cover together with considerably high percentages of permanent agriculture. As described in Maps G.7 and G.8 it is probable that provincial policies in terms of land access have had a strong influence on the current land cover. Finally, in the south, the predominance of permanent agriculture
on the rich volcanic soils of the Boloven plateau is also worth noticing.

The map also depicts the National Biodiversity Conservation Areas, six of which are in the north, eight in the central region and six in the south. Since the majority of these areas are in remote regions this favours the conservation of these protected forests.



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