Operational Logging and Degradation Monitoring Initiative (OLDM) boosts law enforcement through forest monitoring in Laos.

20 September 2021
Field inspection. Credit: Bee Aphaiso

OLDM is a forest monitoring system that enables Lao authorities to detect changes in forest cover on individual tree level fast enough for field teams to interdict illegal logging activities, seize logs before transport and processing, and apprehend the offenders. The system undergoes a second phase of expanded piloting until October 2021. Past piloting activities have already shown its technical effectiveness and logistical feasibility.

The system has been developed in close cooperation between the Government of Lao PDR and its forestry projects as well as Lao PDR-based private sector forestry and technology companies. This OLDM Initiative is a pilot project implemented by the Department of Forest Inspection (DOFI) and the Department of Forestry (DOF) with the support of the GIZ project “Protection and Sustainable Use of Forest Ecosystems and Biodiversity (ProFEB)”, KfW project “Integrated Conservation of Biodiversity and Forests (ICBF)”, and ADB project “Biodiversity Conservation Corridors (BCC)”. The continued refinement of the system to serve the project’s monitoring needs for REDD+, forest land-use planning and implementation of the Lao Timber Legality Assurance System contributed significantly to research and development, and eventually makes OLDM a versatile tool. Over the course of its development, the system has been adapted to increasingly make use of open source software and satellite imagery.

Thanks to the close collaboration with relevant government partners throughout the development and testing phases, OLDM has been acknowledged as a valid and relevant monitoring system for the Departments of Forest Inspection (DOFI) and Forestry (DOF) in the Lao Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF). This high degree of ownership by the government partners as well as the unique combination of a near real-time forest monitoring system with a law enforcement component make OLDM an important tool for tackling illegal logging and forest degradation in Laos.

At the end of the year, OLDM will move into its final phase with the objective of institutionalizing the system at central governmental level. This will be a long-term process that also requires active engagement of provincial authorities. Additional support will be necessary to create an institutional environment that permits fully handing over the system to the Lao Government. GIZ-ProFEB will continue to support its counterpart in addressing related issues at the National Forest Monitoring System Technical Working Group.

For more technical details and stories from the field, check out the report/executive summary of the report here.