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Entries in Laos (45)



Team 2 is jubilant as they walk out of the forest after completing their 2000 m² rattan inventory transect (see Training in Lak Sao and Donsard). Counting rattans in forest growing on steep karst can be tedious. [NOTE: Love the field shoes - and the hat, and the victory signs, and the smile - on the young lady in front. I wonder who has the tally sheets?]  


Back In Laos

Wasn't the easiest trip I've ever made, but I'm back in Vientiane, Laos. Couple of days of inventory training for WWF staff and offering help on data analysis and management planning. I really like this place. [NOTE: Brief layover in Frankfurt on SQ 025 turns into an overnight because of a mechanical problem with the plane. Missed both of my connecting flights. Not complaining, I'm just saying...].

Finally, It's A Book

My book on the rattans of the Greater Mekong Region is finally out (see Almost A Book). Lot of good stuff here. The book contains: 1) an illustrated field guide to 65 rattan species (by the incomparable palm systematist, Andrew Henderson), 2) inventory and growth data from wild rattan populations in Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam, 3) a conservation assessment of rattan species, and 4) a relatively simple, participatory protocol for managing wild rattan populations on a sustained-yield basis.  Will be available in English, Khmer, Lao, and Vietnamese.

The book is being printed by the Agricultural Publishing House in Hanoi, and the official book launch is in Phnom Penh on February 13. I leave for Southeast Asia - for fieldwork and to give a talk at the book launch - the day after tomorrow. 


That Dam

That Dam, or 'Black Stupa", is an imposing landmark in the center of a quiet roundabout in Vientiane, Laos. The bricks are crumbling and the entire structure is covered with moss and a weeds, but there is still quite a a bit of folklore associated with this stupa. It is called the black stupa because: 1) it was originally covered with gold but the Siamese armies stole it when they invaded the city in 1828 leaving the stupa black, or 2) the stupa is inhabited by a black, seven-headed dragon that came to life to protect the Lao people when Siamese armies entered the city. [NOTE: I guess the dragon was unable to protect both the gold and the people].  


Other Week: Day 7

Original Post: Pétanque
Date: March 27, 2012 at 10:40 AM  


triptych of images from an ill-fated pétanque set in Lak Sao in which my team failed to score any points in three different games. Image above shows Bansa (see Training in Lak Sao) throwing out his first boule. [NOTE: Bansa is wearing a lovely Hawaiian shirt].

Boules aligned around the cochonnetor jack. Note that the two engraved boules, belonging to the opposing team, are the closest to the jack.

Scorekeeper slides the opposing team's scale to 3 as the round finishes. My team is still at zero. We stayed at zero the whole game. [NOTE: It was not entirely my fault.]. 



Figure above shows size-specific growth rates for six rattan species from Laos and Cambodia. The data were collected over a four year period to provide a production baseline for defining a sustainable harvest of cane. In the absence of these data, the communities were operating under the assumption that 20% of the canes in the forest could be harvested each year on a sustainable basis. This assumption, which was provided as an interim indicator by the WWF rattan program, is valid if the commercial canes are growing at least 1.0 meter/year. i.e. it takes five years to produce a merchantable rattan cane such that 20% of the resource stock can be harvested each year.

The growth data shown above verify that a 20% harvest intensity is appropriate for all of the rattan species except Calamus tetradactylus. The merchantable canes (≥5.0 m long) of this species exhibit an average growth rate of 0.78 meter/year [NOTE: Average growth rates of merchantable canes are shown as a dotted horizontal line in each histogram] and annual harvest intensities, as a result, should be considerably less than 20%. Similarly, more than 20% of the merchantable canes could be harvested sustainably from other species, e.g. Myrialepis and Plectocomia, which are both growing well over 2.0 meters/year.

When you know the actual yield characteristics of the resource you are exploiting, you can be very precise in defining a sustainable offtake. [NOTE: These data are currently being written up in an article, so please do not copy, distribute, or cite. Thx].


Dragon Prow

The courtyard at Wat Si Saket in Vientiane (see Wat Si Saket, Wat Si Saket (Revisited), and Collateral Damage) contains an old wooden boat with a lovely, and somewhat casually painted, dragon prow. Love the bulging eyes, donkey teeth, and splash of yellow. [NOTE: Four days to Christmas]. 


Lunch at Donsard


Putting lunch together after the inventory work at Donsard (see Donsard and More Red Lines). We were about 15 people, and I remember we all ate on the floor in a big room where the individual dishes were spread out on a split rattan mat. We were given a little styrofoam plate (such as shown above), but no utensils. Food was delicious, albeit a bit messy for someone not accustomed to eating with his hands. [NOTE: There were no napkins, either. Once you were finished eating, you just walked back to the kitchen and washed your hands and face].


Taking Notes

A peek over the shoulder of one of the participants at a training workshop on sustainable rattan harvesting held at Ban Sobphuan, Laos (see Thin Red Line). Pretty clean notes. Looks like the top graph relates to graphing a running mean to assess the efficiency of sampling operations, while the histogram on the bottom probably refers to something I said about the relationship between plant size and growth. [NOTE: I can tell by the scarf that the man in the black baseball cap shown in the center of the image is Ou Ratanak from WWF Cambodia (see Lunch at Ban Sobphuan)].



Another look (see Paintingat the renovations and repairs underway at Wat Xieng Thong when I visited Luang Prabang this summer with Case (see Tak Bat). The bamboo scaffolding - tied together with plastic cord - is in place to assist in the re-painting of the large Buddha.