TFT and the Luang Prabang Provincial Forestry Section (PFS) established the Luang Prabang Teak Program (LPTP) in 2007 with the aim of developing a responsible planted teak industry to improve livelihoods of teak farmers in Luang Prabang province, Lao PDR. In 2011 the program obtained the FSC certificate, the first smallholder plantation certification within Lao PDR. April 2016 marked the end of the five year term.
Over the past five years, LPTP has used FSC as a guideline to improve forest management; FSC was an important tool for the development of the program. However, the biggest challenge for maintaining the certificate is the lack of FSC markets and costly and bureaucratic audits that simply don’t align to the economic reality of smallholder in Lao PDR.
As a result, TFT and PFS have decided not to extend the FSC certificate for the Luang Prabang Teak Program (LPTP).
TFT believes however, that the program has reached a point for which it can continue to provide benefits to local farmers without being certified by FSC. Over the past years, many of the program activities have gone beyond those required to attain or maintain certification. These include village capacity building, establishment of small scale enterprises, clarifying land tenure and strengthening farmer’s negotiation power.
We believe that by continuing our path ‘beyond certification’, LPTP will provide greater benefits to teak farmers in Luang prabang.
It is important to note that, even without the FSC certificate, PFS and TFT will continue to provide support to teak farmers in Luang Prabang. We will maintain the LPTP management system with its robust processes and documentation, with farmers at its core. Should market dynamics justify the re-investment in FSC, then it will be relatively straight forward path to once again attain certification.