Land use planing

Why a new approach to land use planning needed?

Forest and agriculture land use planning has been an important element of rural development in the Uplands of Lao PDR for the last 30 years. Notably it has been used in attempts to stabilize shifting cultivation, improve natural resource management, manage resettlement, clarify land for concessions and improve tenurial rights of local people. Despite this, land Use Planning has often been unsuccessful in achieving key development and conservation goals due to insufficient consultation with local communities, the tendency for planning processes to emphasize policy priorities at the expense of local needs, perspectives and knowledge, and inadequate processes for feedback and revision.
The TABI Participatory Forest and Agriculture Land use planning, allocation and Management (FALUPAM) attempts to address past short-comings of land use planning.

What is FALUPAM?

FALUPAM is an iterative approach for land use planning at the village and village cluster level. It is a set of tools that provides Lao Government (GoL) agencies, investors, donor partners and NGOs the ability to carry out integrated resource planning and monitoring of forests and agricultural lands in an inclusive way, by engaging and working together with local authorities and villagers.
The approach is based on the recognition of traditional livelihoods of the uplands and designed in order to contribute to the stabilization of shifting cultivation landscapes, promote long-fallowing and to increase of forest cover.
The overall goal of FALUPAM is to ensure the sustainable and equitable use of agriculture and forest land by and for local land users. Based on this it has three primary objectives:

  • To develop forest and agricultural land zonation and management plans that reflect local needs and priorities and are owned and implemented by local villagers
  • To develop forest and agricultural land zonation and management plans that meet government requirements and can be approved at local and national level
  • To develop forest and agricultural land zonation and management plans that ensure the sustainable use of local resources and Agro-Biodiversity


  • Methodology developed since 2011 by The Agro-Biodiversity Initiative in three provinces: Xiengkhouang, Houphanh and Louang Prabang
  • Implemented by DALAM, PALAM, PONRE, DONRE, with support from NIRAS and CDE
  • Civil Society partners- WWF, GRET, WCS, CCL and World Renew
  • Implemented in 250 villages in 10 provinces with detailed maps and socio-economic data collected
  • More than 70 people trained at the provincial level in implementation


What makes FALUPAM unique?

FALUPAM builds upon previous methods of land use planning which have been tested and implemented in Laos over the last 20 years. There are a few distinctive features about FALUPAM:

Iterative planning

FALUPAM takes an iterative, multi-stage and deliberative approach to land use planning over a longer period, as opposed to a rapid, campaign-style approach. Time is left between visits for villagers to digest and discuss the results before actively taking part the next planning step. This allows district staff and villagers to discuss amongst themselves, gain trust and develop mutual understanding of land and forest issues.

Identifying and mapping actual land use

In typical land use planning processes, national land use classifications are used as a basis for the current situation of land use instead of on-the-ground assessment in order to save time and effort. Because of mismatching spatial scales and timing of land use classification, these categories, do not reflect prevailing customary land uses and local knowledge. As a consequence, such approaches do not adequately reflect local needs and interests and present obstacles for local communities and authorities during implementation. FALUPAM is different from other land use planning tools in that it is precise about actual and present land use at the plot and village level, building on local knowledge and customary practice. In FALUPAM, the identification and mapping of current land use is carried out jointly with villagers and village-level authorities. This helps to build trust and also demonstrates that the teams are respect local land use.


Applying state-of-the-art technology and well-trained staff leading the process

FALUPaM applies the most advanced technology in remote sensing, mapping, digitizing, GIS data management and related disciplines. The most recent satellite imagery is obtained and used in each field mission. Pre-digitization and post-field data compiling are key to obtaining detailed and accurate data, which makes working local villagers a lot easier and productive. Besides from satellite imagery, the most recent and updated vector-based data are also sourced in order to help the mapping process. Post-field data are then cleaned, compiled, processed and used to produce into final maps. These data are then stored in the well-structured GIS database system.
Technical government staff and partners are provided with series of essential trainings both theoretical and on-the-job training. They have to be well-trained and able to show some sort of capability prior to the actual field implementation.

Creating economies of scale by consolidating agriculture production

The traditional upland landscape is often a patchwork of activities that makes it difficult to achieve economies of scale. FALUPAM introduces the concept of consolidating production and management into zones for more efficient and effective development. In terms of agriculture production, consolidating activities allows villagers to work together, construct fences and communal works and potentially decrease labour inputs. It is also easier to define and demarcate the boundary between agriculture and forestry zones, and thus create the preconditions that are essential for community land title. It can promote community cohesion and potentially be more equitable for poorer families

Local ownership and recognition

Village land use planning committees are established for the steering and coordination of the planning process. At the end of the planning process, these committees suggest the approval of the final village reports, for official signatory of the district Governor. The Governor’s signature provides a form of legitimacy to the process and helps to ensure the protection of community land and resources from outside development pressures. The committee is also entrusted to seeing the plan is implemented and/or adapted based on local realities.

Implementation at the landscape-scale

Key social and environmental values are best managed at the landscape scale. At minimum, FALUPAM is implemented at the kumban (village cluster) level, collaboratively producing village boundaries that are mutually-agreeable to surrounding communities while identifying planning and management needs for shared resources that leverage cross-boundary synergies and avoidance of inter-village conflicts.

Who has been involved in FALUPAM?

DALAMD leads the testing and implementation of the approach but works with a number of line agencies such as the Department of Forestry and the Department of Lands/MONRE. In addition, DALAMD and TABI have developed a network of provincial level teams that can implement the process.

TABI is also working with a number of INGOs, projects and even the private sector to further the implementation of FALUPAM across the country, including: GRET, CCL, WWF, THPC, LURAS/Helvetas and World Renew


Putting Agriculture on the Map: The TABI experience in Laos. in Shifting Cultivation Policies: Balancing Environmental and Social Sustainability. Andreas Heinimann, Chris Flint, Rasso Bernhard and Cornelia Hett. Dec 2017
Forest and Agricultural Land Use Planning: A Strategic Analysis of the TABI Approach in Lao PDR. Michael Dwyer and Vimala Dejvongsa. May 2017
Update on FALUPAM activities and Plans and Reports on the analysis of M&E of FLUMZ Monitoring – Kongkeo Sivilay, 29 August 2017
Results from the 3FC redelineation in Luang Prabang Province (Lao Language)
The Agro-Biodiversity Initiative (TABI): Landscape planning and management from the ground up. Micah Ingalls, October 2017
Stabilisation of Land Use , and Development of upland rice cropping, and villager forestry systems as a crucial component in Upland Development – Chris Flint, October 2017