The Nam Ha National Biodiversity Conservation Area of Luang Namtha
History of Nam Ha National Protected Area
Southeast Asian countries are known for their rich, yet fragile, biodiverse ecosystems. These natural treasures are what attracts ecotourism initiatives to the area. The ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) Centre for Biodiversity was established in 1970 to protect biodiversity from degradation in the region.
Luang Namtha's own Nam Ha region has been recognised by the Centre as an area of precious biodiversity. In 1993, the Nam Ha National Protected Area was established. This mountainous area covers 222,4000 hectares (or 2,224 square kilometers) and extends as far north as the Chinese border.
Habitats and WIldlife
The Nam Ha area scores high on any measure of biodiversity. It is a patchwork of tropical and subtropical forests, spotted with caves and waterfalls. About 2000 kinds of plants grow in this area. One of the most prized species is the Aquilaria tree, which is used to make incense.
There is also a great wealth of animal species in the Nam Ha NPA. The vast variety of bird species make it an ornithologist's wonderland, and the variety of mammals (over 30 mammal species) also allows for fulfilling wildlife spotting adventures. For insect lovers, flocks of butterflies can be spotted near pools of water and other bugs are worth a close-up examination.
Another beauty of the Nam Ha NPA is that the percentage of primary forest is quite high. According to some estimates, approximately 32% of the forest is either undisturbed or primary forest that regenerates itself. The age alone of these primary forest makes it the Nam Ha area a point of deep-rooted natural history in Laos.
Challenges and Threats
One magnificent mammal species under threat in the Nam Ha National Protected Area is the Asian Elephant. These creatures’ migratory patterns lead them across the border of China and Laos in search of sugar cane to eat. Over recent years, the elephants have increasingly come into conflict with encroaching human settlement.
The Nam Ha NPA also faces the same threats that are common to all precious yet vulnerable areas of rich biodiversity -- agricultural encroachment and slash-and-burn methods, illegal logging and hunting, forest fires, grazing of buffaloes, and the harvest of non-timber forest products such as bamboo and ginger.
Ecotourism in the Nam Ha National Protected Area
Fortunately, local people are learning the value of the Nam Ha NPA in its pure and unspoiled form due to a growth in ecotourism to the area, which also serves as a conservation incentive. The National Tourism Authority of Lao has identified Nam Ha as rich in both natural and cultural tourism potential.
This vast potential to explore Nam Ha while helping to conserve it through ecotourism is now a reality. Through this site, you can read more about the various trekking in Nam Ha trips on offer, including our One Day trekking in Nam Ha trip, and for those with a little more time, two-day trekking trip from Nam Ha to Namdeat Mai. The 3 Days Nam Ha Trekking tour is another great trekking option.
Ecotours such as these are a great way to appreciate this protected area and give some economic incentive to the conservation efforts in place.