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Land degradation in the Lao PDR: Discourses and policy

Lestrelin G.. 2010. Land Use Policy, 27 (2) : p. 424-439.

DOI: 10.1016/j.landusepol.2009.06.005

While there is an important body of research on environmental discourses and policy in Southeast Asia, the situation in the Lao PDR remains understudied. This paper builds on debates related to environmental change and knowledge production and examines the socio-political construction of the current mainstream discourse on land degradation in Laos. It highlights that, despite significant uncertainties as regard the extent and severity of the issue, land degradation in the uplands is represented by the Laotian authorities and many of their development partners as a major and imminent threat to the development of the country. The paper also examines the way this perspective is translated into policies specifically aimed at resolving the upland issue and proposes an alternative reading of this process where mainstream discourse and associated policy appear partly shaped by the subjectivities and political economic projects of Laos' policy-makers. Finally, drawing on the case of Laos, the paper provides a critical reflection on conventional approaches to assessing socio-environmental issues and defining policy interventions.

Mots-clés : dégradation des terres; dégradation de l'environnement; utilisation des terres; impact sur l'environnement; politique foncière; politique de l'environnement; économie de l'environnement; politique de développement; gestion des ressources naturelles; république démocratique populaire lao

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