Sustainable Rattan | WWF

Sustainable Rattan

WWF’s sustainable rattan project operates in Bolikhamxay, Xekong and Saravan provinces. The objective of the project in Laos – which also runs in Cambodia and Vietnam – is to secure credible forest certification, establish a more sustainable rattan production supply chain, and develop sustainable financing for small and medium sized enterprises to invest in it.


Rattan is a naturally renewable palm that has multiple uses, such as for furniture, handicrafts and building material. However, the way rattan is harvested and processed needs to improve in order to secure the supply in the long term.


As part of this project, communities and companies are working with WWF to implement a viable and sustainable forest management model. This means that villages can earn income from the harvesting, splitting and weaving of rattan for sale on international markets.


Specifically, WWF is developing forest management plans with communities, training pre-processors and traders on clean production, building business links, and promoting Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and Fair Trade certification of forests and products.


This rattan management project is also hoped to become a model for the development of other sustainable supply chains in Laos, such as bamboo and tea.


Some huge successes have already emerged from the project. Since 2008, over 5,500 ha of forest are now FSC certified and 28 villages in the three provinces have directly benefitted from the sale of rattan products.

	© WWF-Laos
Rattan splitting process
© WWF-Laos
	© WWF Laos
Sustainable Rattan Management Model
© WWF Laos

Rattan baskets weaving

Women weave rattan baskets in Thaveng Village, Bolikhamxay Province, Laos. Thirty-one families in this village are involved in weaving rattan products that are sold in Laos and also exported. Since 2012, when they got involved in rattan weaving, the families’ collective income has more than tripled. 

	© Thippakone Thammavongsa / WWF-Laos
Women weave rattan baskets in Thaveng Village, Bolikhamxay Province, Laos
© Thippakone Thammavongsa / WWF-Laos

Seeds of life



Rattan is a naturally renewable palm that grows in the tropical regions of Africa and Asia and is used for furniture, handicrafts and building material, among other uses. An NTFP that’s relatively easy to harvest and has multiple uses, it can help alleviate pressure on natural forests by providing local communities with an alternative source of income.


Rattan is an invaluable part of rural people's livelihoods in Laos but over-harvesting and land conversion is causing a rapid decline of natural rattan.


WWF has been working with communities and government officials in Bolikhamxay Province and neighbouring Xekong and Saravan provinces since 2006 – and in southern Laos since 2009 – to develop a viable and sustainable management and supply chain model that ensures the forest is protected while also contributing to local livelihood.


The project, supported by IKEA, the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA), provides capacity building, funding and training to villagers on rattan harvesting and production.


It is part of wider WWF efforts in the Greater Mekong region – particularly Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam – to establish a sustainable rattan supply chain from natural forests and create income from NTFPs.


In Laos, villagers have been trained to manage their inventory and harvest, split and weave rattan that’s sold domestically and is also exported to countries like Thailand, Switzerland, Sweden and the US.

“The WWF project helped us in training and giving us encouragement to do this work that now provides us with sustainable income. The project acts like a bridge between us and the market, the outside world,” says Khensy Milatid, Duputy Chief of Thaveng Village, head of the group that produces rattan handicrafts. 




	© Thippakone Thammavongsa / WWF-Laos
Click on the image to view the full story of how rattan has become "Seeds of Life) for many villagers of the 4 villages under Sustainable Rattan Project. 
	© Thippakone Thammavongsa / WWF-Laos
Hand-made products of rattan in Thaveng village, Bolikhamxay province.
© Thippakone Thammavongsa / WWF-Laos
	© Thippakone Thammavongsa / WWF-Laos
Khensy Milatid, Duputy Chief of Thaveng Village, head of the group that produces rattan handicrafts.
© Thippakone Thammavongsa / WWF-Laos


FSC stands for Forest Stewardship Council, a global not-for-profit organisation dedicated to the promotion of responsible forest management worldwide. By Laos’ rattan forest being FSC accredited, it means its management is at the highest standard, ensuring benefits for both nature and the communities dependent on it.

Unsustainable rattan harvesting leads to forest degradation, and affects tropical forest ecosystems as well as rural people’s source of income. Achieving a more sustainable rattan production will ensure future rattan supply and prevent negative impacts on nature, communities and companies.


In the long term, the objective of the WWF Sustainable Rattan Project in Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam is credible forest certification as well as establishing a more sustainable rattan production supply chain. 


As part of this project, communities and companies in Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam are working with WWF to implement a viable and sustainable forest management model. 

	© Thippakone Thammavongsa / WWF-Laos
Baskets at the Danlao factory in Vientiane Province, Laos. The FSC-certified baskets are exported to Coop.
© Thippakone Thammavongsa / WWF-Laos