End of March 2023, we coordinated for a team from the National University of Laos for a first site visit to Nakai-Nam Theun National Park. The objective of this site visit was for professors from the National University to get a better understanding of our project site to co-develop together research projects in line with several of our programs. As part of this visit, professors, experts and representatives from several different sectors of the university joined, including the Research and Academic Department, the Center of Excellence for Biodiversity, the Faculty of Science, the Faculty of Architecture and the Faculty of Social Science.
The team from the university, led by Anoulak team and villagers, got the opportunity to visit some of the target villages and surrounding forest sites in the Thaphaibanh village cluster, where Association Anoulak has been supporting local communities for their sustainable livelihoods development with handicraft a value chain, and for natural resources management practices.
This short visit provided the opportunity to discuss and list key research projects and training opportunities where the National University of Laos can support our work. In the next few weeks, together with the National University of Laos, we will define these projects and plan for their implementation over the next few years. Some of these projects will include research on traditional ecological knowledge, natural resource management systematic survey techniques, handicraft design innovations, botanical surveys and monitoring (focussing on some key species of conservation concern), social science research within the local community to survey the cultural understanding, perception and future aspect of villagers regarding conservation, resource management and livelihoods activities. In addition, Association Anoulak will discuss other potential research projects on species groups that have been little studied in Nakai-Nam Theun National Park including birds, reptiles and amphibians, bats etc. The collaborative projects that will be developed with the National University of Laos will be supported financially by Association Anoulak and will include some students scholarships.
Earlier this year, Association Anoulak signed a partnership agreement with the Center of Excellence in Biodiversity of the National University of Laos to promote biodiversity research, education, training, development of human resources and institutional strengthening in Laos. This partnership aligns with the direction of Association Anoulak towards capacity building of the next generation of biodiversity conservationists in the region and legacy.