To alleviate stresses on natural resources, integrated spatial development plans (ISDPs) at the district, provincial and national level are a means to help. These plans are formulated in cooperation with local communities and relevant district and provincial authorities to reduce pressures from land conversion and encroachment, in a way that aims to reconcile poverty alleviation with biodiversity conservation.
At the heart of all ISDPs is the community. Incorporating their needs and offering alternative opportunities for livelihood improvement – with them always involved in planning – seeks to balance development with broader conservation goals.
Such efforts have been made at the Eld’s deer sanctuary in Savannakhet, where conversion of the Dry Forest for livestock grazing is a serious threat to the deer’s habitat, which also supports exceptional flora and fauna.
The project hopes to generate a sustainable development plan for not only for the core zone of the Eld’s deer sanctuary but also for the broader landscape within which it is situated, bringing benefits for both local communities and the Eld’s deer population.
Similarly, in other WWF projects such as Community Fisheries, co-management plans have led to government guidelines on co-management, and recognition of it in the Fisheries Law. This work demonstrates how other communities and government agencies can easily take up development of a strong and replicable process.