Mapping land use in Laos
Land use planning and erosion control are two of the Laotian Authority's National Agriculture and Forest Research Institute's (NAFRI) core operations, for which long-term campaigns have been launched to improve the efficiency of agriculture and forestry, and to introduce new methods and crops or tree species. This activity has long been run through Swedish aid, and NAFRI's staff has included both Swedish and international experts in these areas. Land use planning is an ongoing project run at both national, provincial and city level.
One of the biggest problems for modelability is the lack of reliable data. In cooperation with ENES (via the GIS Center) staff, two of NAFRI's employees carry masters studies at Lund University with the aim of increasing the reliability of the models used. The cooperation is funded by Sida.
So far, we have analyzed the actual conditions in a province in central Laos in order to establish the relationship between reality and the type of data that is generally available for the whole country (vegetation, soils, topography, etc.).Once such relationships have been established, it is possible to set criteria for different land use types and extrapolate the results to at least those parts of the country that have a similar relationship.
The data used comes from existing digital map material, from satellite images and from field visits. The idea is, however, that the collection of field data should be kept to a minimum as the road network is in very poor condition. Thus, it is not realistic to base national projects on field operations, as it would take quite a long time. An important parameter in the land use model is also the erosion intensity, erosion is a major problem in Laos because most of the country is very hilly. The project has also generated 3 exams.