On a recent trip to Lao PDR to visit an innovative, private sector led and community-focused forestry project, ACIAR RPM, Tony Bartlett met a passionate young Australian forester.
Richard Laity has been working in Lao PDR, primarily with Burapha Agroforestry Ltd, but also with the Luang Prabang Teak Project. Richard has a forestry degree from the Australian National University, but since graduation has spent most of his time working overseas – particularly in Laos and Solomon Islands. He is particularly passionate about using forestry systems, involving eucalypts and teak to improve the livelihoods of poor farmers.
Richard showed us examples of the company’s work to produce high quality eucalypt and acacia seedlings, as well as some very interesting and successful examples of agroforestry systems supported by the company. Of particular interest to Richard is research on biocontrol of the Eucalypt gall wasp pest which is devastating many eucalypt plantings in the Mekong region.
Richard Laity talks to ACIAR project partners Why aren’t all the trees like this one?
at Burapha nurser
at Burapha nurser
Richard’s main work is leading Burapha Agroforestry’s program to expand its plantation estate in Laos. The company has 6000 hectares of Eucalypt and Acacia plantations, most of which have been established in the past 3 years. They plan to increase the total plantation estate to 60,000 hectares, with plantings around Vientiane and Saynabouri in southern Laos. Not your run-of-the-mill plantation development, Burapha is developing agroforestry style plantations that actively engage local communities. They put considerable effort into working with communities to develop agroforestry plantings on land rented from local people, but still allowing them to farm this land and receive income from participating in the management of the plantations.