Land and Resources, Environmental Concerns
fuelwood, soil erosion, deforestation, population growth, reptiles
Many of Laosís environmental problems are related to the countryís rapid loss of natural forests. Commercial logging, slash-and-burn agriculture, fuelwood gathering, and population growth have contributed to the deforestation. The widespread clearing of trees has caused soil erosion, and the resulting silt accumulation in waterways and irrigation channels has polluted water resources. Deforestation is the most serious threat to wildlife habitats in Laos. Illegal animal poaching and commerce in the exotic meats market also threaten several animal species. In 2001, 68 species of mammals, birds, reptiles, and fish were designated as threatened in the country.
The government has enacted legislation to protect wildlife and has established a number of natural heritage areas, but enforcement is limited. Officially, 10.3 percent (1996) of Laosís total land area is protected.
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