Sustainable Rattan and Bamboo

Over the past 16 years, WWF-Laos has been supporting the government officials on the capacity of traders and processors regarding cleaner productions, business, and regional and international market links as well as a sustainable design. The management of over 30,000 ha. of natural forest has been improved and has made the sustainable production of rattan and bamboo profitable, transparent and fair.
With the previous phase of the project ended in 2021 which was successfully implemented and gave the most benefits to the communities and the conservation as a whole, the project has been then extended with the new phase (phase-6) under the continuous support from IKEA and Sida (the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency), in a partnership between WWF-Laos and National Agriculture and Forestry Research Institute (NAFRI).

The project memorandum of understanding was signed on April 26, 2022, between NAFRI and WWF-Laos, with the activities implemented together with the Provincial Agriculture and Forestry Office; District Agriculture and Forestry Office, Civil Society, Communities, and private sector partners.

The project (Phase-6) outcomes contribute to the overall development goal of the Lao P.D.R., particularly the National Action Plan for Sustainable Rattan and Bamboo, and the National Forest Strategy.

© WWF-Laos
MoU Signing Ceremony between NAFRI and WWF-Laos on Sustainable Rattan-bamboo Harvesting and Production Project phase-6, Apri 26, 2022.
© WWF-Laos

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.

© Vangmuang Phongphailath / WWF-Laos
An aerial view of the wild rattan forest in Sobphouan Village, Bolikhamxay Province, central Laos.
© Vangmuang Phongphailath / 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

Sustainable Rattan Case Study

When Mr. Linhthong La-Intong moved to Sobphouan Village from his native Xiangkhouang Province some 13 years ago, things were very different.


“But one thing stayed the same,” La-Intong tells us. “It’s our forest.”


The village’s nearby forest is more diverse these days, he tells us. He mentions seeing more wild pigs and deer, and that the villagers see to it personally that poachers don’t get their way in their protected forest.


“When illegal hunters are caught by our patrol, we take them to the village chief.  The first time they get a stern warning. Second time offenders get fined 500,000 Kip and the third time it’s 1.5 million [Kip].  The fourth time, they go to jail.”  


(Click on his photo to read the full story) 

© Thippakone Thammavongsa / WWF-Laos
Mr. Linhthong La-Intong, head of the Sobphouan village rattan forest management group, and head of the village patrol team.
© Thippakone Thammavongsa / WWF-Laos

PM Thongloun Sisoulith made a short visit to a rattan furniture factory in Vientiane Province

Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith and other senior government officials on 20 June 2017 visited Vientiane province as the government aims to encourage more effective livestock breeding and organic vegetable projects in the province.

During his trip, a short visit was made to a rattan furniture factory called Danlao in Viengkham district, and handicraft groups in Nayang village, Phonhong district, Vientiane province which aim to promote local businesses and encourage improvements to household incomes.

(Click on the photo to see the full article published in Vientiane Times on the PM visitation to this province)  

About Danlao Rattan Factory

Danlao, a family owned enterprise, employs some 30 people, many of whom have been with the company for more than ten years.

Danlao sources rattan and finished products from villages that are part of WWF’s sustainable rattan project

“WWF came to us at the right time, when we were facing a lack of raw supply,” says Danlao owner Saykham Phetmany. “In the past, our company and also the provinces where we harvested rattan didn't do surveys and we didn’t have actual production figures so the government did not approve the quota to harvest. When the project came, we identified and conducted surveys, which helped us to increase the quota and to support our workers to have work.” 

© Unknown
Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith and other senior government visited a rattan furniture factory called Danlao in Viengkham district, Vientiane province.
© Unknown
© WWF-Laos
Rattan product producing at Danlao Rattan Factory in Vientiane province
© WWF-Laos


FSC stands for Forest Stewardship Council, a global not-for-profit organization 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. 

In 2005, the Government of Laos has introduced forest certification scheme to implement in the State Production Forest in two provinces- Khammouane and Savannakhet provinces. In the initial stage, a forest certification scheme was organized for single scope, by which Khammouane province held one certificate and Savannakhet province held one separately. 

As part of the 2007 annual audit, SmartWood/Rain Forest Alliance (RA) combined, through the request of DoF, two certified groups into one, which is called “group certification” in order to save costs. The unified group was formed at the Department of Forestry (DOF) as a group entity, which has been providing institutional and technical guidance to the members throughout the certification process. While the Department of Forestry (DoF) is supporting FSC group certification of sustainable forest management in Laos, the rattan management is an initiative project targeting FSC certification under a Group Certification structure. 

Sustainable Rattan Project supports 7 villages at Khamkheut district of Bolikhamxay province and of which 4 villages were selected as the site for certification and now it extends to other villages in Bolikhan district, Bolikhamxay province. Group certification is a process by which multiple landowners or forest managers are certified under one FSC certificate, allows a group entity to be the certificate holder for a group, applies the group entity’s certified forest management system to the group’s individual forestlands, requires the group entity to meet all FSC policy and procedural requirements and all members to meet the FSC P&C. However, group certification is designed to reduce costs and increase opportunities for forestland owners/forest managers to participate in FSC certification by distributing the costs of certification among a large number of forest landowners.

The group certification can have many members to include in the scope, but if one fails to meet the standard of FSC, the certificate will be withdrawn although other members perform well. Although the group entity may be certified, being a member of the group does not automatically confer membership in the certified pool. A forest owner or manager may choose not to join, or may be removed from the certified pool, but may remain a member of the organization or a client of a certified forest manager. 

Read more about FSC Rattan Certification in Laos HERE

© 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

Report: FSC Rattan Certification Implementation in Laos

Sustainable Rattan and Bamboo Harvesting and Production Project Phase V, 2018 to 2020

This phase will focus its efforts on supporting the creation of an enabling policy environment for the development of rattan and bamboo value chains that include both the concept of sustainable forest use and management and the concept of fairly distributed business profitability.

The project continues supporting forest management capacity building for local communities and FSC certification in Bolikhamxay province, as well as supporting sustainable business development that benefits both small and medium enterprises and local communities who harvest and pre-process raw material.

Project Main Activities include: 
  • Development bamboo and rattan policy frame-work in Lao PDR to enable a growing FSC-certified bamboo and rattan business that benefits local livelihoods.
  • Empowerment communities to sustainably manage forests rich in bamboo and rattan in target villages.
  • Capacity building for rattan and bamboo producers, processors and traders to match international standards and promote FSC products internationally, regionally and locally.

The project is started from January 2018 to December 2020 in three provinces; Bolikhamsay, Xekong, and Saravan. The Activities directly targets at 28 villages in 6 Districts with an estimated total 1,500 HH benefit from all project activities. 

The National Agriculture and Forestry Research Institute; Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry will be the main partner to implement the project activities. Other MAF departments such as DoF is also a key focal point for the project, as well as their line agencies in the provinces and district. The project also engages on a regular basis with the TABI project, DALAM, and its line agencies on land use planning activities in target villages.

(More about this Phase-5 project activities can be found HERE, or from the PDF file on the right-hand side.)

Rattan & Bamboo Phase-5 Project Factsheet

© WWF-Laos
© WWF-Laos
© Bounpone. S / WWF-Laos
© Bounpone. S / WWF-Laos


Rattan Landscapes, Rattan Livelihoods.

It has long been used as a material for furniture, handicrafts and construction in the tropical regions of Africa and Asia. Rattan, the spiky palm, is a particularly high-value non-timber forest product, offering a critical source of income for some forest-dependent communities in the tropics and subtropics: young shoots provide a source of food and more mature fibres are used to build furniture and make handicrafts, such as baskets.

In the Lao People's Democratic Republic (Laos), sustainable management of natural rattan is critical if this way of life is to continue and forests are to
remain viable habitats for wildlife.

(read more from the attached PDF or from the International Bamboo and Rattan Organisation HERE).