VIDEO: Protecting the endangered bong tree
Date: 6 April 2016
Incense sticks are ever-present at Buddhist shrines across South East Asia. They are mostly made from the bark of the endangered bong tree, which is endemic to the region. Bong trees were once abundant in countries like Laos but, in 2008, overexploitation led the Lao government to declare that they were on the verge of extinction.
Now the preservation of Bong forests in Laos is also helping one of the country's poorest ethnic groups, the Pacoh, to secure their land rights and incomes.
The Pacoh are some of the nation’s poorest people who live in a remote mountain region close to the Vietnamese border. Until recently, many of them lived by the barter system and had rarely seen money. Now, for the first time, the Pacoh have been provided with permanent land certificates where they can grow bong trees as a cash crop – ensuring that they have a steady income and enough food throughout the year.