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Nakai-Nam Theun NBCA (NNT; 11)

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Nakai-Nam Theun. Abbreviated: NNT


Established by PM Decree 164, 29 October 1993.


Latitude: 17o 36' - 18o 23' N
Longitude 101o 04' - 101o 32' E

Map Sheets

Scale I: 100,000 (dotted lines represent proposed extension areas)

E-48-42 E-48-43    
E-48-54 E-48-55    
E-48-66 E-48-67 E-48-68  
E-48-78 E-48-79 E-48-80  
E-48-90 E-48-91 E-48-92 E-48-93


Scale I: 200,000



Scale I: 500,000



Khammouane and Bolikhamxay


Nakai (85%) [Khammouane]
Khamkeut (15%) [Bolikhamxay]


The northern boundary follows the southern side of Route 8A from the international border with Vietnam southwest along the base of the Annamite foothills, skirting around populated valleys (Nam Weo and Nam Kata) and meeting up with Route 8B as it passes through the gorge onto the Nakai Plateau. The western boundary follows the base of the "Dividing Hills" until it meets the Nam Sot where it turns SW and follows the Nam Sot to the Nam Theun. It then runs along the Nakai Plateau on the eastern side of the Nam Theun to the Nam One, which it follows on the east side until it turns SW again just past Ban Don crossing to the bottom of the Phou Ak escarpment in Gnommalath District. The soutern boundary follows along the base of the Phou Ak escarpment and along the north side of Route 12 into Boulapha District all the way to the international border at Mu Gia pass. The eastern boundary runs from here along the international border SE-NW all the way to the international border crossing at Route 8A.


As decreed: 3,710 sq. km


There are three proposed extensions for the NNT NBCA:


The Nam Theun Corridor, originally proposed as 620 km2 by Berkmuller et al (1995) and as 668 km2 by IUCN/WCS (IUCN 1998), would provide a broadleaf forest connection between the westernmost section of the NNT NBCA with Phou Hinboun NBCA. The Northern Extension, originally proposed as 645 km2 by Berkmuller et al (1995) and as 761 km2 by IUCN/WCS (IUCN 1998b), would provide protection for the unique ever-wet forests along the Annamites and the eastern international border and connect with the proposed Nam Chuan NBCA. The Southern Corridor, proposed as 20 km2 by IUCN/WCS (IUCN 1998b), would connect the southernmost portion of the NBCA with Hin Namno NBCA.


There is only one main road which enters the heart of the NBCA, this is the road entering the NBCA from Route 8B (around B. Kengdaeng, Khamkeut District) to Ban Thamuang (on the Nam Sot) to Ban Navang (on the Nam Mon). However, this road is in disrepair and has been out of use since 1998. This road actually continues as a track suitable for dry season logging access up to Phou Xong and the east along a ridge for a distance over 10 kms however it was never used for logging. The Nakai Plateau can also be accessed from Thakek via Route 12 and then Route 8 B to Nakai District Town and the Nakai Plateau. The section of this road from Gnommalath to Nakai (up the Phou Ak escarpment), as well as the portion of Route 8B on the Nakai Plateau becomes most difficult in the wet season. A network of dry season logging roads enter the NBCA along the perimeter of the proposed NT2 reservoir inundation area (538 m asl contour) on the eastern side of the Nakai Plateau. The entire western side of the NBCA is almost adjacent to Route 8 A & B and Route 12.

Villages &

    No. of Villages by Type  
District Villages I II III IV Persons
Nakai 52 29 7 8 8 10,000
Gnommalath 10   10     2,500
Boulapha 3   3     700
Khamkeut 10   4 3 3 2,500
TOTAL 75 29 24 11 11 15,700

Notes: (1) There has not been a comprehensive survey of NBCA boundaries and adjacent village boundaries, the above represents best estimates based upon work done to date.

(2) There are another 60 villages including about 9,000 inhabitants within about 3 kms of the protected area boundary if all extensions are included.

Principal Local

The 5,000 or so residents of the NBCA cultivate rotational swiddens on a total of about 3% of the land area of the NBCA, this includes fallows. These residents also use a wide variety of NTFPs in their daily life (rattans, foods, Kho leaves, etc.) and some collect a few NTFPs for trade (cardamom, bong bark, etc.). Most of these people also supplement their agriculture with fishing and hunting. A portion also hunts for trade. A more significant use of wildlife and other more valuable NTFPs has been by outsiders. Almost all of the Eaglewood Aquilaria sp. has already been depleted. A rattan concession in 1996-7 seems to have depleted most of the large diameter rattans from the NBCA. International poachers have been active in the area since the mid-1980s in force and they continue to deplete the wildlife on a significant scale.


Within the NBCA, the entire population of about 5,000 are considered "Lao Theung", including a variety of Vietic (Mon-Khmer) speakers 31%, Brou ( Western Katuic branch of Mon-Khmer) 55%, and Tai-Sek (Tai-Kadai) 14%. There is an increasing Hmong population on the periphery of the NBCA in Khamkeut District, Bolikhamxay Province.



early 1700s

Sek people arrive in the Nam Pheo valley (off Nam Noy) displacing an older Vietic (Kri-Phong) population there.


Siamese occupation of the Nakai Plateau and adjacent areas. The Sek of the Nam Pheo retreated into Vietnam and the Sek of Na Kadok (Khamkeut District) sought refuge in Ban Navang (Nakai District), where their terraced paddies still exist (now cultivated by Brou).


This period is characterized by the departure of the Siamese and the populating of the Nam Noy basin by Phong-Kri speakers. The Brou subsequently arrived into what is now the protected area, probably from Gnommalath to escape the Siamese depopulation policy which was implemented vigorously in the lowlands. Also in this period, beginning in about 1880, many Tai speakers from Houaphan and Nghe An fled into Khamkeut to escape the Cheuang millinarian war carried out by the Khmou in those areas.


French colonial presence in Lak 20 and the trade with Vietnam on Route 8. Some associated logging in certain valleys of what is now proposed as the Northern Extension is believed to have taken place during this time.


Fighting between the Pathet Lao/North Vietnam Army and the Royal Lao Government/US Government erupts in the area. Over 1,000 NVA troops in the protected area and significant branches of the Ho Chi Minh trail follow the periphery of the current NBCA - mostly along Route 8 and Route 12 across the Nakai Plateau. While these areas receive significant bombing by the US Government, most of the NBCA is spared heavy bombing.


With the consolidation of the Revolution, re-education camps were established on the Nakai Plateau and some Vietic speakers were moved from the forest to newly established villages (e.g. Ban Thamuang) in an effort to sedentarize them. USSR sponsored timber and soil surveys were carried out throughout the area. Military control of the area, through the "Mountainous Area Development Company" (Bolisat Phattana Khet Phoudoi - BPKP) begins exploiting forest resources on the Nakai Plateau and parts of the NBCA in Khamkeut District.


The Nam Theun 2 Hydropower project is formally proposed to the GoL and preparations began. Salvage logging of the Nakai Plateau (e.g. the proposed inundation area) increased in scale to 150,000 m3 per year and some logging of Fokenia in the NBCA took place. The NBCA was gazetted in 1993. Systematic wildlife surveys in the area began in 1995. In 1996, IUCN and WCS announced their support for NT2 assuming World Bank and GoL agreement with environmental management conditions. NT2 was delayed with the lapse of the power purchase MOU with EGAT and onset of the Asian economic crisis.


World Bank and GoL funded IUCN and WCS to conduct environmental and social management planning for the area within the context of the proposed NT2 project which resulted in an "environmental and social management strategic framework". Pilot field activities in community development and biodiversity conservation were initiated in the NBCA. NT2 project appraisal was further delayed and the start-date for construction of the NT2 dam was estimated at December 2001 with commissioning at the end of 2006.




The Sai Phou Louang (Annamite) Mountains within the NBCA (divided within the NBCA into the Northern, Central and Southern Mountains areas) running NW-SE dissected by NE-SW oriented river valleys form the bulk of the NBCA. As these rivers emerge through gorges in the Dividing Hills onto the Nakai Plateau, the five main rivers (Nam Sot, Nam Mon, Nam Theun, Nam Noy and Nam One) widen and meander, creating rich riverine forest habitat. The Dividing Hills are a NW-SE oriented range up to 1,000 m separating the Nakai Plateau from the Northern and Central Mountains area. The Nam Theun leaves the plateau at its north-western end, turns to the west and eventually joins the Mekong River as the Nam Kading. Elevations in the NBCA range from 500-2,200 m; with 500-580 m asl on the Nakai Plateau, 600-1,100 m asl in the Dividing Hills; and 600 - 2,200 m asl in the Central and Southern Mountains.

Central Mountains

The heart of the protected area is formed by a block of mountains covering around 800 km2. They are mostly above 1000 m, with many peaks above 1,500 m and the summit ridge rising to 2,200 m at Phou Laoko. This is the catchment for the Nam Sot, Nam Mon and Nam Theun rivers. Established settlements in the lower, flatter portions of these river valleys (550-650 m) form two enclaves, named by their sub-districts as Taseng Navang around the Nam Sot and Nam Mon. and Taseng Thaphaiban around the Nam Theun. To the north, the very high ground is continuous with the Northern Mountains . Southern Mountains

South of the Central Mountains there is a stretch of slightly lower mountains, here named the Southern Mountains, which are the catchments of the Nam Noy and Nam Pheo, peaking at 900-1,300 m. To the south is another high area, the Phou Wang massif. Both river valleys have been settled and form the enclave of Taseng Theung.

Nam One Catchment

This is the only catchment in the protected area without human settlement. The catchment covers around 700 km2 of the southern slopes of the Phou Wang massif (abutting the Southern Mountains). The lowest reaches flow out over the eastern portion of the Nakai Plateau.

The Dividing Hills

These separate the lowlands of the Nakai Plateau from the mountainous areas further north, the major rivers cutting through them along rocky but fairly level courses. The peaks are mostly quite low (800-1,100 m). There are no villages in these hills, and only one road, Route 8B, crosses them, at the northern end.

Nakai Plateau

The Nakai Plateau is the relatively flat area around the confluences of Nam Theun with Nam Sot, Nam One and Nam Noy. The rectangular plateau covers about 1,200 km2 (about 60 km SE-NW and 16-20 km SW to NE). It ranges from about 490 m to 600 m and merges into the Dividing Hills to the east and south east. To the south, the plateau drops away sharply (Sai Phou Ak escarpment) to the cultivated Gnommalat lowlands below 200 m. To the east, it abuts the hillier Nam One catchment. The centre of the plateau is heavily settled and quite degraded. The prospective NT2 Hydropower Project reservoir will inundate the plateau to the 538m asl contour.

Sai Phou Ak Escarpment and the proposed Southern Corridor

About 45 km of the Sai Phou Ak escarpment is included at the southern end of the NNT NBCA. Its lower slopes together with the proposed Southern Corridor are the only part of the protected area below 500 m. The proposed Southern Corridor forms the Lao PDR side of the Mu-Gia Pass through which Route 12 currently passes. To the south it joins with the impressive peak of Phou Etra , and the impressive limestone karst of the Hin Nam No NBCA.

The Northern Mountains

The Northern Mountains are a continuation of the Central Mountains but drop to the south and east onto the Lak Xao plain rather than the Nakai Plateau. They are the catchment for two major rivers, the Nam Kata and the Nam Veo (marked 'Nam Pheo' on the topographic maps - not to be confused with the Nam Pheo tributary of the Nam Noy). The wide, gravelly, alluvial plains of these two main valleys, lying at 500-550 m, have been completely deforested and are outside the protected area boundary. Forest remains on most of the hills around them, rising to over 1200 m in places. Forested mountains along the border exceed 1,700 m.

Northern Extension (proposed)

Along the Vietnamese border north of Route 8A (to about 18°20' N) there is a long stretch of the Sai Phou Louang Range which is particularly low, mostly between 600-900 m. The Northern Extension consists of an approximately 550 km2 swathe of these mountains. Most of these forested mountains drain into the Nam Phao or the Nam Gnouang, both tributaries of the Nam Theun below the Nam Theun 2 dam site. A few streams drain eastwards towards Vietnam and the Gulf of Tonkin . The lower Nam Phao and Nam Gnouang are heavily settled, with shifting cultivation fast encroaching on the Northem Extension. This is particulary severe in the Nam Cham valley.

Nam Theun Corridor (proposed)

The Nam Theun Corridor is dominated by the winding forest sided valley of the Nam Theun River which exits the Nakai Plateau northwards through a long steep sided valley. The corridor also contains much of the Nam Malou catchment which will be inundated by the proposed NT2 Hydropower Project Reservoir, and the Nam Gnala.

500 - 2200 m asl

The NNT NBCA is in the Southeast Asia monsoon climate regime. During the winter (November-February), when the sun is to the south of the equator the climate is under the influence of the cold continental high pressure region over China . The winds are clockwise around the high and are from the northeast over Southeast Asia . This is the Northeast Monsoon, characterised by cold dry air and infrequent and light rain. For summer (May-August), the sun is to the north of the equator and heats the land mass beneath to a degree that causes an extensive low pressure region called the Intertropical Convergence Zone and the Monsoon Trough. Warm winds from the southwest carry moisture from the Andaman Sea and the Gulf of Thailand to the part of the trough in the Lao PDR region where vertical convection causes the rainfall, large amounts during the height of the monsoon season. This is the Southwest Monsoon. The air is warm, and humidity high.

For the NBCA, the Southwest Monsoon begins in May, reaches its maximum strength in August and disappears about mid-October. The climate then cycles through a transition period to mid-November when the Northeast Monsoon appears. Rainfall becomes very infrequent and light, the air is cool, and the humidity lower. The Northeast Monsoon lasts until the end of February when the hot and dry transition period begins.

In addition to the monsoons, the NBCA is occasionally visited by typhoons and tropical depressions. The peak of the typhoon season in the central region of Lao PDR is generally September and October. The typhoons form over the South China Sea and move westward to Vietnam , lift over the Sai Phou Louang (Annamite) Mountains and pass on to the Nam Theun catchment. Mountain passes to the north (Ban Nape), central (Ban Maka) and south (Mu-Gia) offer easier paths between the mountain peaks.

The nine year history (1986-1994) of average monthly rainfall at Ban Signo on the Nakai Plateau follows the general pattern of the Southeast Asia monsoon. The yearly average is 2,249 mm. This value can be taken as representative of the entire Plateau region. Rainfall in the upper catchment area of the NNT Conservation Area is expected to be greater but there is no reliable data available. The DMH National Isohyetal Map indicates that this region receives annually from 2,500 to 3,000 mm of rainfall.

Main Forest

Types There is a complex range of habitats in the NNT Conservation Area which reflect pronounced gradients in soils, altitudes and microclimates. Habitat types usually blend into one another, and there is rarely a sharp divide between them. Component species of habitat floras are poorly known and will remain so until a systematic collecting programme is in place.

Evergreen forest has plant families and genera typical for other parts of Southeast Asia . Commonly found were species of Dipterocarpus and Shorea in the Dipterocarpaceae, and species of Myristicaceae, Annonaceae, Rutaceae, Sapindaceae, Fabaceae etc. The upper canopy reaches generally around 20 m, with emergent trees reaching to about 30 m. The diameter of larger trees is in the 50-60 cm class, with occasional emergent trees having diameters exceeding 120-cm. Palms, including rattan, are uncommon in the northern NBCA, but frequent in the central and southern areas.

Undisturbed montane Fagaceous forest dominates the proposed Northern Extension where it generally occurs at higher elevations. Ridges above 950 m toward the Vietnam border in the southern part of the NBCA have scattered and small populations of cypress. Like evergreen forest, Fagaceous forest shows a mosaic of species associations and distribution patterns. Within the Fagaceae and other families, some species are generalists, found everywhere, and others are highly localized.

Cloud forest exists on the summit of Phou Chomvoy and the upper reaches of the mountains of the Northern Extension. In the NBCA it occurs on mountains south of Ban Nameo. The transition between montane Fagaceous and cloud Ericaceous forest was sharp, occurring at about 1600 m. Ericaceous species dominated this habitat, in particular Rhododendron cf. veitchianum Hooker. This striking species grew to about 7 m tall; 40 cm dbh and had 6-8 cm long white flowers.

Riverine forest is the only habitat where a tree species of Poikilospermum (Urticaceae) was seen. The habitat protects a large variety of herbs. In the Nam Sot area where riverbanks are shallow and many areas appear to flood regularly, component species of habitat floras will remain unknown until a thorough collecting program is in place.

One of the unique features of the NNT Conservation Area and especially the Northern Extension is the occurrence of highly restricted 'everwet forest'. This occurs only in narrow bands where there are low elevation saddles in the Sai Phou Louang (Annamite) chain. These saddles allow the Vietnamese northeast monsoon to penetrate across the border and consequently these areas receive rain for up to ten months of the year. These areas are typically very wet in January-February when adjacent areas of habitat are in the midst of harsh dry season. It is probable that the fauna and flora assemblages are unique as the habitat occurs nowhere else in Lao PDR. This further emphasises the conservation significance of the Northern Extension.


Total: 530
Birds: 377 (405 including the proposed extensions)
Mammals: 100

Bats 45
Rodents 8

Reptiles/Amphibians: 53

Summary of
Key Species

Number of Key Species
Conservation Concern2
Regionally Sensitive3
Regionally at Risk4
National Historical Decline5
Data Deficient1
New species (all Vulnerable but not yet listed)

(1) Baillie & Groombridge 1996, (2) Those species listed as significant to conservation in Lao PDR (Salter 1993), (3) Timmins & Evans 1996, (4) Follows Treesucon & Round 1990, (5) Thewlis et al. Submitted, and (6) Includes the Indochinese Warty Pig, a rediscovered species listed as Extinct in Baillie & Groombridge 1996.

Recent surveys (Robichaud and Stuart 1999) identified 51 reptile and amphibian species in NNT NBCA, including two new species (a caecilian and a skink). However it is believed that this is not exhaustive, as the survey did not adequately cover warmer months nor higher elevations (above 800 m).


Principal Contributions to the NBCA System


The NNT NBCA represents Lao PDR's largest (3,710 km2) and most diverse natural forest area. Three of the last five large mammals to be discovered or re-discovered world-wide occur in the NNT Conservation Area. The most distinct of these remarkable discoveries is the Saola Pseudoryx nghetinhensis (Dung et al. 1993 ; Schaller & Rabinowitz 1994 ). Other newly discovered species, a small dark muntjac and Giant Muntjac Megamuntiacus vuquangensis (Tuoc et al. 1994; Schaller & Vrba 1996) also have restricted world ranges centred on NNT Conservation Area. The Indochinese Warty Pig Sus bucculentus was recently rediscovered in the area (Groves et al. 1997) after being considered extinct (Salter 1993). Field surveys indicate that mammal communities within the protected area are exceptionally diverse. At least nine species of primate occur, including four threatened taxa to which the NNT NBCA represents a global stronghold (Pygmy Loris Nycticebus pygmaeus, Douc Langur Pygathrix nemaeus, Francois' Langur P. nemaeus francoisi and White-cheeked Gibbon Hylobates leucogenys).

Along one stretch of abandoned logging road above the village of Ban Navang in the NBCA, 16 species of carnivore have been recorded , and further species have been found elsewhere in NNT. This is the highest diversity of mammalian predators reported at a single site in Lao PDR-Cambodia-Vietnam. Included amongst these are many rare cats (Fishing Cat Prionailurus viverrinus, Golden Cat Catopuma temmincki, Marbled Cat Pardofelis marmorata, Clouded Leopard Pardofelis nebulosa and Tiger Panthera tigris), several of which have not been recently observed by biologists elsewhere in Lao PDR.

The Nakai Plateau holds significant populations of many mammals including an estimated100-150 Asian Elephants Elephas maximus. Few Elephants are found elsewhere in the NNT NBCA (WCS 1996a; Tobias 1997) and, moreover, few viable populations of elephants currently exist elsewhere in Lao PDR.

In total, recent surveys have found approximately 430 bird species in the NNT Conservation Area (Timmins & Evans 1996, Tizard 1996, Tobias 1997). This is the highest diversity of any site yet surveyed in Lao PDR, and amongst the highest recorded in protected areas across Southeast Asia . In terms of key species of conservation concern, 56 have been found in the NBCA (43 residents/breeders) and 43 (36 residents/breeders) in the Northern Extension. If it is accepted that birds provide an appropriate basis for evaluating the importance of an area to wildlife conservation (due to ease of specific identification, availability of detailed distributional data and globally standardized categories of threat), these totals establish the NNT Conservation Area as the most important site yet surveyed in the Lao PDR-Cambodia-Vietnam region.

The Nakai Plateau supports many threatened birds (WCS 1995a, 1995b). Some species may be extirpated from the protected area by inundation of the plateau (including the White-winged Duck Cairina scutulata which is the NNT Conservation Area's most significant bird species from a global conservation perspective), while many others occur either in the remainder of the NBCA or in the Northern Extension. The forests of the Northern Extension contain one of the largest populations ever recorded of Crested Argus Rheinwardia ocellata (an endangered pheasant) and should be viewed as integral to the area as a whole.

Surveys in the Nam Theun and Xe Bangfai basins indicate diverse fish communities comprising many species with restricted ranges and high conservation importance (Kottelat 1996; Roberts 1996). Although the Nam Theun was found to be less diverse than the Xe Bangfai (60 as opposed to 131 species) it contained a higher proportion of endemic species (18% as opposed to 4%; Kottelat 1996). However, as these levels of endemicity may be a function of uneven survey coverage, further work is being undertaken in adjacent watersheds to clarify the distribution of local fish species. The fish fauna of upland river systems in the watershed has not been studied and is likely to add significantly to the overall diversity and conservation value of aquatic resources in the NNT Conservation Area.

The NNT Conservation Area has a very diverse range of the principal habitats of the Sai Phou Louang (Annamite) Range. The undisturbed evergreen mixed and Fagaceous forest tracts harbor important animal and plant species. Whereas the flora awaits exploration to provide the level of detail available for mammals and avifauna, it is already known that it has a diversity of rare Gymnosperm genera, especially Fokienia and Keteleeria. There are undoubtedly many new species yet to be discovered. The pine habitat is not botanically rich, yet is of great conservation significance. It includes one of the few old growth Pinus merkusii habitats left in Southeast Asia , and is important for wildlife.

The large size of the NNT NBCA and its proposed extensions forms the core of a connected series of important conservation areas in both Lao PDR and Vietnam which together represent the most important protected area in the Lao PDR-Cambodia-Vietnam region. These reasons alone provide the NNT Conservation Area with outstanding conservation value and form the basis for recommendations that the Government of Lao PDR seek World Heritage Status for the area and formally link it with other conservation areas in Lao PDR and Vietnam .


Values As the drainage of the NBCA is generally SW into the Nam Theun, the NBCA forms almost the entirety of the Nam Theun watershed. This is a critical tributary of the Nam Kading, itself a major tributary of the Mekong . The Nam Theun already has one hydropower project (Theun-Hinboun) selling electricity to Thailand and another major hydropower project (Nam Theun 2) is planned for the Nakai Plateau.


The NNT NBCA also represents significant cultural diversity, including several vulnerable indigenous ethnic groups. The area has a long history of human habitation by a variety of ethnic groups. These communities can be grouped according to ethnolinguistic classes which, although not equivalent, represent useful anthropological categories for planning and management. The term Vietic (29% of NBCA population) refers to people speaking languages belonging to the Vietic branch of Mon-Khmer (Austroasiatic). To date, 17 such languages have been identified in the NNT Conservation Area. Brou (55% of NBCA population) is a single language belonging to the Western Katuic branch of Mon-Khmer. Tai/Sek (16% of NBCA population) is the term used for all groups that speak languages belonging to the Tai-Kadai ethnolinguistic family. At least 10 are represented in the NNT Conservation Area.

Among the indigenous Vietic groups, considerable cultural differentiation has emerged. Their modes of production and space usage vary from foraging in small nomadic groups to a combination of swidden agriculture and sedentary irrigated rice cultivation. From the perspective of risk and vulnerability of indigenous ethnic groups, it is the upper river system Vietic groups that are most at risk. Among these, the most vulnerable groups are the Atel, the Thémarou, and the Mlengbrou, in the grouping Vietic I and characterized as "small group of foraging nomads" . These people are known to have extensive knowledge of the forest and their culture and lifestyle is intimately based upon nature:

Actually, the term "at risk" in their case is too conservative as their plight would more accurately be designated as "on the verge of extinction." At the present time, the last remaining members of these groups (16 Atel, 30+ Thémarou, and 9 Mlengbrou), are to be found living in or near villages to which they were assigned following the official government policy of village consolidation in the 1970s.

Recreation &

While the area offers spectacular forests and rivers, difficult access and lack of any accommodation or services limits tourism activities at present. Difficult access requires entry by boat or on foot, and also requires significant amounts of time. The prevalence of international poachers and other untrustworthy elements also forces local authorities to require an armed escort for visitors. The incidence of Malaria is high in the area. However, Route 8A (Lak 20 - Vietnam Border) offers ready access to the everwet forests along the Nam Phao from Ban Nape eastward to the Vietnam border. This area lies within a 3 hour drive of Route 13 in Laos PDR and Route 1 in Vietnam.


  • Poaching of wildlife and NTFPs by international poachers;

  • Poaching of wildlife for trade by inholder residents of the NBCA with international traders in exchange for basic necessities and consumer goods; and

  • Agricultural expansion by inholder residents for subsistence agriculture.

There is also a certain amount of logging beyond the inundation level at the edge of the Plateau and the base of the Dividing Hills as well as poaching by logging crews. While there are no main roads, timber extraction or other hydropower projects currently planned for the area, these types of projects represent significant potential threats.

Reasons for
Extensions or

Addition of the Northern Extension to the NBCA has long been regarded as compensatory mitigation for habitat lost to the NT2 Hydropower Project dam and reservoir. However, the above discussion on biodiversity values make it clear that the Northern Extension is highly important for conservation, in its own right. Furthermore, it provides a link between several distant protected areas, including Pu Mat and Vu Quang Nature Reserves in Vietnam . Linkage between protected areas is vitally important as large populations of organisms prove more likely to survive into the long-term than small populations. Thus the additional and contiguous habitat provided by the Northern Extension would increase the success of conservation management and it should be viewed as an integral component of any conservation plan for the area. Lastly, preliminary surveys indicated that the Northern Extension is critical for conservation of the endangered Saola.

The establishment of the Nam Theun Corridor links the Khammouane Limestone NBCA with this large trans-border area and is the habitat of certain species not recorded elsewhere in the NNT Conservation Area, as well as being regularly used by elephants from the Nakai Plateau (WCS 1996a).

The small Southern Corridor provides a crucial link to the large Him Nam No NBCA which is itself adjoins the Phong Nha-Ke Bang Nature Reserve in Vietnam



Soukhatha Vanalath, NBCA Head
c/o Khammouane Provincial Forestry Section, Thakek Tel: (051) 212-099


5 staff (4 male, 1 female) seconded by Khammouane Province based at NNT NBCA Headquarters in Nakai District Town . The current NBCA staff is woefully inadequate and no representatives from Bolikhamxay Province are included. During 1998, project activities received 16 staff on secondment from Khammouane Province and Nakai District (13) and Bolikhamxay Province (3). IUCN (IUCN 1999) has proposed that the NBCA staff include at least 24 officers and an additional complement of patrolling staff seconded to the NBCA from the Provincial Border Police, District Police and Army.


There is no formal arrangement between Khammouane and Bolikhamxay Provinces and the Department of Forestry on the management roles and responsibilities of the NBCA staff.


NNT NBCA Headquarters and staff accommodation was constructed in Nakai District Town 1995/6 and refurbished in 1998.


4 motorcycles (2 from 1995 and 2 from 1998). Basic sets of guidebooks, maps, compass, binoculars, camping kit, TV/video, radio sets (9 handsets and 2 base stations), a small generator, and a computer. The NBCA is in desperate need of a 4-wheel drive vehicle.

Support &

Financial support from SIDA through Lao-Swedish Forestry Programme 1991-1996.

With World Bank and GoL funding, IUCN has provided some support in 1997 - 1999 including the first field activities in the NBCA during 1998-99. Advisor input has been limited to short-term stints.

While several trainings were provided in 1998 on participatory assessment and planning, land-use planning, wildlife monitoring techniques, and extension techniques, most of the staff who received the training are no longer assigned to the NBCA.

At this writing, there are two projects in the approval process and several others in the planning stage to address the considerable needs and urgent priorities in the NNT NBCA. Despite its importance at the national and international levels, NNT has not yet been unable to benefit from any commitment to long-term funding.


Establish an NBCA management unit with full complement of staff and stable institutional support as well as sufficient financial support for a three-year period. This should include a full-time protected area management advisor to strengthen the capacity of the NBCA management team and establish a comprehensive protected area management programme for this most important NBCA.

Establish a joint-patrolling programme with Provincial and District security forces to minimize the extent and impact of widespread poaching in the NBCA (at this writing, dry season 1999/2000 begins without any support for this critical activity).

Continue participatory conservation activities already initiated by strengthening cooperation with existing guardian villages and establishing new guardian villages in critical habitat areas (Ban Kunae, Ban Nameo/Nameuy, Ban Teung, Ban Seuk, Ban Singthong, Ban Vangjang, Ban Navang/Mai, Ban Nakadok, Ban Phonkeo in the NBCA). These activities should include both village conservation monitoring groups, community natural resources management, and support for development activities.

A comprehensive forest/land-use planning and appropriate livelihood development programme for the entire NBCA must begin soonest as the scale, complexity and capacity constraints are formidable.

Approval and formalization of the proposed extension and corridors, and inclusion of these areas into protected area management activities.

Timely endorsement and implementation of the Saola Conservation Action Plan for Lao PDR (IUCN/WCS 1999).

Boundary demarcation.

Assessment of threats and management considerations for the Nakai elephant population.

Supplementary surveys on flora and reptiles and amphibians.



Other Relevant

World Bank Nakai District Upland Development and Conservation Project NT2 Hydropower Project





Baillie, J. and Groombridge, B. (1996). 1996 IUCN Red List of Threatened Animals. Gland , Switzerland : IUCN.

Boonratana, R. (1999). Wildlife Monitoring and Participatory Conservation Techniques at Nakai-Nam Theun NBCA. WCS/IUCN. Vientiane .

CARE. (1996). Socio-Economic and Cultural Survey of the Nam Theun 2 Project Area. CARE. Vientiane .

Chamberlin, J. R. (1997a). Cultural Diversity and Socio-economic Development in the Context of Conservation. Unpublished draft submitted to IUCN "Environmental and Social Action Plan for the Nakai-Nam Theun Catchment and Corridor Areas". Vientiane .

Chamberlin, J. R. (1997b). Nature and Culture in the Nakai-Nam Theun Conservation Area.

Compton, J. (In prep.). Borderline: An assessment of wildlife trade in Vietnam . Draft Report, WWF Indochina Programme, Hanoi .

Duckworth, J.W., Salter, R.E. and Khounboline, K. (1999). Wildlife in Lao PDR. 1999 Status Report. IUCN, Wildlife Conservation Society, and Centre for Protected Areas and Watershed Management, Department of Forestry, Vientiane .

Dung, V. V., Giao, P. M., Chinh, N. N., Tuoc, D. & Mackinnon, J. (1993). A new species of living bovid from Vietnam . Nature 363, 443-445.

Ernst, C. H. and Barbour, R. W. (1989). Turtles of the World. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, D. C. 313 pp.

Finlay, J. (1996). Preliminary Analysis for Zonation Decision-Making in Nakai-Nam Theun National Biodiversity Conservation Area: A Report to the Centre for Protected Areas and Watershed Management, Department of Forestry. CEMP/WCS. Vientiane .

GoL NT2 Representative Office (1999). Meeting Memorandum from the Provincial Technical Review Meeting on the Environmental and Social Management Plan for Nakai-Nam Theun Catchment and Corridor Areas, 27-28 April 1999, Thakek, Khammouane Province . [Lao]

GoL NT2 Representative Office (1999). Meeting Memorandum from the Inter-Ministerial Technical Review Meeting on the Environmental and Social Management Plan for Nakai-Nam Theun Catchment and Corridor Areas, 15-16 June 1999, Vientiane, Lao PDR. [Lao]

Groves , C. P., Schaller, G. B., Amato, G. and Khounboline, K. (1997). Rediscovery of the wild pig Sus bucculentus. Nature 380: 135.

Hansel, T. and Vannalath, S. (1999). Nakai-Nam Theun NBCA Staff Training and Capacity Building on Extension Techniques for Participatory Conservation. WCS/IUCN. Vientiane .

IUCN (1996). 1996 IUCN Red List of Threatened Animals. IUCN, Gland , Switzerland .

IUCN (1997). Khammouane Province : A Preliminary Environmental Inventory. IUCN/SIDA. Vientiane .

IUCN (1998a). Social Action Plan for the Nakai-Nam Theun Conservation Area. IUCN. Vientiane .

IUCN (1998b). Environmental and Social Management Plan for Nakai-Nam Theun Catchment and Corridor Areas (Revision 1 - May 1998). IUCN. Vientiane .

IUCN (1999). Nakai-Nam Theun Conservation Area Programme - Phase 2: Community Development and Biodiversity Conservation Pilot Field Activities Final Report. IUCN. Vientiane .

Ingles, A., Saypaseuth, T., Foppes, J., Baker, J., Khetphanh, S., Bounsou, S. and Sengkeo, K. (1999). A rapid survey of the use and Government regulation of non-timber forest products from the Nakai-Nam Theun National Biodiversity Conservation Area, Central Lao PDR. IUCN. Vientane.

International Advisory Group (IAG) (1997). World Bank's handling of social and environmental issues in the proposed Nam Theun 2 hydropower project in Lao PDR: Report of the International Advisory Group. IAG. 19 August 1997.

International Advisory Group (IAG) (1998). Second report of the International Advisory Group on the World Bank's handling of social and environmental issues in the proposed Nam Theun 2 hydropower project in Lao PDR. IAG. 22 December 1998.

Jarvie, J. K. (1997). Technical Report of the Botanist - Plant Ecologist in "Environmental and Social Action Plan for the Nakai-Nam Theun Catchment and Corridor Areas (IUCN/WCS)". WCS. Vientiane .

Jenkins, M. D. (1995). Tortoises and freshwater turtles: The trade in southeast Asia. TRAFFIC International, United Kingdom .

Kottelat, M. (1996) Potential Impact of the Nam Theun 2 Hydropower Project on the Fish and Aquatic Fauna of the Nam Theun and Xe Bang Fai Basins, Lao PDR. Cornol , Switzerland . 2 Volumes.

Roberts, T. R. (1996) Fluvicide: an independent environmental assessment of the Nam Theun 2 hydropower project in Lao, with particular reference to aquatic biology and fishes. Bangkok .

Robichaud, W. (1997). Saola Conservation Action Plan. IUCN/WCS, Vientiane .


Robichaud, W. (1998). Nakai-Nam Theun Saola Conservation: Interim report after the first phase of fieldwork, 22 May to 15 June 1998. Report to IUCN. WCS, Vientiane .

Robichaud, W. (1999). Saola Conservation Action Plan - 1999 Revision. WCS/IUCN. Vientiane .

Robichaud, W. and Stuart, B. (1999). Summary of Saola, Herpetological and Wildlife Trade Studies in Nakai-Nam Theun NBCA and the Proposed Northern Extension. WCS/IUCN. Vientiane .

Salter, R. E. (1993) Wildlife in Lao PDR. A Status Report. Vientiane : IUCN.

Schaller, G. & Rabinowitz, A. (1994). The saola or spindlehorn bovid Pseudoryx nghetinhensis in Lao. Oryx 29: 107-114.

Schaller, G. & Vrba, E.S. (1996). Description of the Giant Muntjac Megamuntiacus vuquangensis in Lao. Journal of Mammalogy 77(3): 675-683.

Scudder, T., Talbot L. M. and Whitmore, T. C. (1997a). Report of the International Environmental and Social Panel of Experts. Nam Theun 2 Hydro Project, Ministry of Industry and Handicraft. Vientiane .

Scudder, T., Talbot L. M. and Whitmore, T. C. (1997b). Second Report of the International Environmental and Social Panel of Experts. Nam Theun 2 Hydro Project, Ministry of Industry and Handicraft. Vientiane .

Scudder, T., Talbot L. M. and Whitmore, T. C. (1998). Third Report of the International Environmental and Social Panel of Experts. Nam Theun 2 Hydro Project, Ministry of Industry and Handicraft. Vientiane .

Scudder, T., Talbot L. M. and Whitmore, T. C. (1999). Fourth Report of the International Environmental and Social Panel of Experts. Nam Theun 2 Hydro Project, Ministry of Industry and Handicraft. Vientiane .

Stuart, B. (1998a). A Survey of Amphibians and Reptiles in Hin Nam No NBCA, East-central Laos . Centre for Protected Areas and Watershed Management/Wildlife Conservation Society Cooperative Program, Vientiane .

Stuart, B. (1998b). A Survey of Amphibians and Reptiles in Khammouane Limestone National Biodiversity Conservation Area. Centre for Protected Areas and Watershed Management/Wildlife Conservation Society Cooperative Program, Vientiane .

Stuart, B. (1998c). A Survey of Amphibians and Reptiles in Phou Luey National Biodiversity Conservation Area, Bolikhamxay Province , Lao PDR. Centre for Protected Areas and Watershed Management/Wildlife Conservation Society Cooperative Program, Vientiane .

Srisomvang, V. (1998). Recommendations on Agro-Forestry and Community Development in Ban Makfueang Village , Nakai-Nam Theun NBCA (December 1998). ECOLAO/IUCN. Vientiane . [Lao]

Timmins , R. J. and Evans, T. D. (1996). A Wildlife and Habitat Survey of Nakai-Nam Theun National Biodiversity Conservation Area, Khammouan and Bolikhamsai Provinces , Lao PDR. WCS. Vientiane .

Timmins , R. J. and Khounboline, K. (In press). The 'golden turtle,' Cuora trifasciata in Laos . Chelonian Conservation and Biology 3(3).

Tizard, R. J. (1996) A preliminary wildlife and habitat survey of the proposed northern extension to the Nakai-Nam Theun National Biodiversity Conservation Area and the adjacent Nam Gnouang area, Bolikhamsai Province, Lao PDR. Vientiane : WCS.

Thamawongsa, P. (1999). Land-Use Planning in Ban Pung. NNT NBCA/IUCN. [Lao]

Thewlis, R. C. M., Duckworth, J. W., Evans, T. D. and Timmins , R. J. (1998). The status and conservation of threatened birds in Laos . Bird Conservation International.

Tobias, J. (1997). Report of the Wildlife Survey in "Environmental and Social Action Plan for the Nakai-Nam Theun Catchment and Corridor Areas (IUCN/WCS)". WCS. Vientiane .

Tuoc, D., Dung, V. V., Dawson , S., Arctander, P. and Mackinnon, J. (1994) Introduction of a new large mammal species in Viet Nam . Science and Technology News. Forest Inventory and Planning Institute, Ministry of Forestry, Hanoi .

Vannalath, S. (1998). Land-Use Planning in Ban Makfueang. NNT NBCA/IUCN. [Lao]

WCMC (1997). Appendices I, II, and III to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna. United Nations Environment Programme.

Wildlife Conservation Society (1995). A preliminary wildlife and habitiat assessment of the Nam Theun 2 Hydropower Project area. WCS/CPAWM. Vientiane .

Wildlife Conservation Society (1996a). A Preliminary Wildlife and Habitat Survey of the Proposed Northern Extension to the Nakai-Nam Theun National Biodiversity Conservation Area and the Adjacent Nam Gnouang Area, Bolikhamsai Province, Lao PDR. WCS. Vientiane .

Wildlife Conservation Society (1996b). Survey of nocturnal mammals in and near the Nakai-Nam Theun National Biodiversity Conservation Area, Central Lao PDR, with notes on other wildlife observed and recommendations for management of the area. WCS. Vientiane .

Wildlife Conservation Society (1996c). Additional surveys and recommendations on the birds and mammals for the Nam Theun 2 Hydropower Project with emphasis on the proposed Corridor and the reservoir Islands Area. WCS. Vientiane .

Zhao, E. and Adler, K. (1993). Herpetology of China . Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles.


Shown as "Nam Pheo" on the map.

The "Dividing Hills" are a NW-SE running range (up to 1,000 m asl) separating the Nakai Plateau from the Central and Southern Mountains Areas.

Nakai-Nam Theun Conservation Area is a name of convenience referring to the Nakai-Nam Theun National Biodiversity Conservation Area together with the four proposed extensions/corridors and the proposed reservoir recommended for inclusion into a single management unit by IUCN (IUCN 1998b). This area is within the administrative jurisdiction of Khammouane and Bolikhamxay Provinces .

With all extensions included, the area would encompass 4,900 km 2 .

Dung, V. V., Giao, P. M., Chinh, N. N., Tuoc, D. & MacKinnon, J (1993). A new species of living bovid from Vietnam . Nature 363, 443-445.

Schaller, G. & Rabinowitz, A. (1994): The saola or spindlehorn bovid Pseodoryx nghetinhensis in Lao. Oryx 29:107 - 114.

Wildlife Conservation Society (1996): Survey of nocturnal mammals in and near the Nakai-Nam Theun NBCA. Vientiane . (unpublished report).

Chamberlain, J. R.: Nature and Culture in the Nakai-Nam Theun Conservation Area. 1997.

The alternative proposal of gazetting the proposed Northern Extension as a separate NBCA within Bolikhamxay Province is recommended on the basis that this will facilitate more timely establishment of the necessary social and management activities in that area.

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