Students: CHAN Syl Yeng Michelle; WONG Wae Ki Sammi
Instructors: Ashley Scott Kelly; Xiaoxuan Lu
Course: Studio Laos: Strategic Landscape Planning for the Greater Mekong
Programme: Bachelor of Arts in Landscape Studies
Date: June 2020
For the past few decades, Laos experienced numerous changes in political, environmental, and social policies. In a shift towards a more sustainable paradigm, the Government collaborated with international organisations and local NGOs, to implement community forest programmes to restore and conserve existing forests. Integrating two development project types: A scientific research plot, and a Community Forest along with their respective institutions: The Chinese Academy of Science and The Chinese Academy of Forestry. We propose to stitch the two separate institutions together, to cooperate on a project in Laos that presents an equitable future. Moreover, we use this opportunity to merge their respective expertise. Developing their existing research in decomposition and traditional pharmaceutical species, these are integrated into the programmatic aspects of the design through encouraging a multi-scalar approach to planning. By weaving them together, within the greater scope of scientifically oriented research plot, we can increase indigenous control over the territory. Currently, the issue with this system is that all the research is benefiting the national and provincial levels in terms of scientific output. The component of equitability is absence from the interventions carried out on the landscape. Especially, with the extending regional ambitions of these institutions studying landscape ecology across the region, we have to focus on local sites and potential impacts and opportunities that are raised with indigenous communities and indigenous rights over the landscape. Impacts of a successfully integrated control mechanism of the two institutions can allow for direct and indirect outcomes. Which in return, provides a more sustainable source of income, employment, and education through the transferral of knowledge, technology, and infrastructure from an institutional to a local level.
Keywords: Laos; scientific research; community forestry; indigenous rights; knowledge transfer