Habitat: Most of the area is covered by mixed
deciduous forest. A range of mountains runs
from “Phou 2094” to the China/Lao border. The top of this range is mainly dry evergreen forest and some grassland. Three large rivers drain southward to the Mekong: the Nam Tha, Nam Fa, and Nam Long.

Access: Easily accessed from Luang Namtha
Town, Muang Sing and Vieng Phoukha.



Nam Ha NBCA; Abbreviated: NHA


Established by PM Decree 164, 29 October 1993.
Extensions (submission No. 1092/DoF-1999) approved by Prime Ministerial Office, 25 August 1999.


Latitude: 20° 33’-21° 15’ N
Longitude: 101° 7’-101° 37’ E

Map Sheets

Scale 1: 100,000

F 47 -119

F 47 -106

F 47 -131

F 47 -118

F 47 -107

F 47 -130

Scale 1: 200,000

F 47 XXlX

F 47 XXX


Scale 1: 500,000

F 47 D


Luang Namtha


Luang Namtha
Vieng Phukha
Muang Sing
Muang Long




The eastern border begins approximately 5 kilometers south of Luang Namtha and follows the Nam Tha river watershed south towards the border with Oudomxay province. Southern border lies within the Vieng Phoukha district at the upper reaches of the Nam Taleng in the southeast and the Nam Fa watershed in the southwest. The western border begins near the peak mountain (2,094 m) and escarpment, follows north the along the headwaters of the Nam Long and Nam Ma to the headwaters of the Nam Sing near Muang Sing. The northern border follows along the international boundary with China, Xieng Yong Reserve, in Sing district.


As decreed (1993): 697 Km2
With extensions (1999): 2,224 Km2


Gazetted in 1999


From Luang Namtha to the southwest, there is a major road to Vieng Phoukha district and the Thailand border which passes through the corridor between Nam Ha East and West. From Luang Namtha to the north, there is a major road to Muang Sing district which passes through the corridor between the Nam Ha West and the Nam Kong area. From Muang Sing to Muang Long there is a major new paved road which parallels the northwestern border of the NBCA to the Myanmar border. From Luang Namtha to the northeast, there is a major road to Oudomxay province and the town of Boten on the China border which parallels the NBCA boundary. From these major roads, there some small roads leading to the NBCA borders which are mostly accessed by taktak. These include roads to Ban Nam Ngen and Ban Nam Mai on the east side of Nam Ha West and Suen Ya village on the east border of the Nam Kong area. The local government also has plans to make roads which would connect Nale district with Vieng Phouka on the south border of Nam Ha East and from Vieng Phoukha to Long district on the south west border of Nam Ha West.

Villages &

No. of villages by type








Luang Namtha

33(+10 Sub-villages)






Vieng Phoukha














Muang Long






Muang Sing















Principal Local

An estimated 90% of the shifting cultivation activity in the NBCA is conducted by villages living in or near the area and 10% by people from outside of the immediate area. NTFPs, primarily cardamom, rattan, bamboo, jewel orchid, eaglewood, and ginger, are harvested from the NBCA. They are used for food and sold. It is estimated that 70% of the sale of NTFPs is conducted by residents inside the NBCA and 30% by people who enter from outside of the National Biodiversity Conservation Area. Of the NTFPs harvested for food, it is estimated that 80% is used by villages in the NBCA and 20% by people from outside of the area. A wide range of wildlife is harvested for food and sale. It is estimated that 40% of the collection of wildlife for sale from the NBCA is conducted by residents and 60% by people from outside of the area. It is thought that 70% of the collection of wildife for food is done by residents and 30% by outsiders. Some timber is harvested from the NBCA for use by people both in and outside of the area. Both local and provincial residents use lands inside the NBCA for grazing of livestock. Because livestock are free-ranging, there have been cases of tiger predation of domestic buffalo.


Nam Ha NBCA includes a variety of ethnic groups including Lao Leu, Thai Dam, Lao Thueng, Ikor, Lao Hoi, Kui, Hmong and Etong. In Nam Ha East the Lao Thueng live along the main road, the Lao Hoi live along the rivers, and there is one Hmong village (Ban Nam Vang). Some Lao Lum (sub-ethnic Leu) live along the Namtha river. In Nam Ha West, there are mostly Ikor (ethnic group: Lao Sung) in the highland areas. In Finho and Nam Bo, there are Lao Hmong, Etong sub-ethnic group in Etong village, and Lao Lum (Leu) in Tinthat village. The Nam Kong area is dominated by Ikor, except for Lao Lum (Thai dam) in Nam Kong village, Kui in Kui Soung village and Hmong in Suen Ya village. Other village which are classified to class III or IV are Lao Lum.



Before the war (prior 1975) of which the southern part of Nam Ha area were settled and then they most moved down after


Nam Ha area identified for Provincial protected area
Nam Ha area declared by decree 164/PM was to be NBCA


Nam Ha NBCA approved by local and national authorities and funding agency to launch a project for management


Field work implemented for socio-economic survey with cooperation between DFRC, province and WCS


9 Pilot villages were selected and the wildlife habitat inventory was conducted. Initial discussion for trekking trail in Nam Ha West done


First village (Ban Nalan) established the local community rule


Land allocation is being completed and the trekking trail project is proposed for starting


Plans to complete land demarcation and land allocation, set up sign board with boundaries and rules. Local community rules will be created by local people whom live in and near its boundaries, where possible. Most monitoring and management work in the areas will be shifted to villagers, as village volunteers will be identified and trained for monitoring and extension with support from local government staff.



Most of the area is covered by mixed deciduous forest, in particular in Nam Ha East with few mountain peaks. In the Nam Ha West, a range of mountains runs from “Phou 2094” to the China/Lao border on the northeast. Along the top of this range is mainly dry evergreen forest and some grasslands. Three large rivers drain southward to Mekhong: the Nam Tha, Nam Fa, and Nam Long.

Elevation 540-2094 m, most areas among 1000-1500m


The rainy season runs from May to September. Average annual rainfall is 1,256 cm, and the maximum rainfall about 1,990. During the colder months of the dry season, from December to February, temperatures can reach as low as 5°c. In the mornings, heavy fog is common, usually clearing and becoming warm and sunny by mid-day The average annual temperature 23.75°c.

Main Forest

The majority of the NBCA is mixed secondary deciduous forest and includes secondary evergreen forest particularly semi-evergreen forest and moist evergreen forest (Bermuller, et al. 1995, Tizard et al. WCS 1997). Tizard, et. al. identified four vegetation zones in the NBCA. They are the Luang Namtha plain from 540-1000 m with a “mosaic of human-modified habitats” made up of bamboo, secondary evergreen forest and scrub. The Northern Highlands zone ranges from 1000-2094 m with patches of primary everygreen forest mixed with secondary forest and large patches of Imperata grass. The Southern Highlands range from 1000-1572 m with both evergreen forest and scrub. The Nam Kong area along the China border ranges from 600-1556 m. It is characterised by secondary evergreen forest and scrub.

Recorded Vertebrates

Vertebrate Class

No. of Species

No. of Key Species








Not surveyed



Not surveyed



Not surveyed


Principal Contributions to the NBCA System


Tizard, et. al. (1997) identified the Southern Highlands zone, the Nam Kuaylong river valley and the spine of the Northern Highlands to contain relatively undisturbed evergreen forest and grasslands. Mammals of significance are clouded leopard, leopard, and tiger. There is a small population of gaur, Asian elephant, and a possibly unique muntjac species. The bird fauna is diverse, although contains only a few species of global significance. The area is thought to be botanically unique and diverse, although no thorough surveys have been conducted. There are a wide variety of non-timber forest products, especially Aquilaria sp. which can still be found in the area.


The Nam Tha watershed is the first major tributary of the Mekong River after it enters Lao PDR. It is an especially important watershed, used to support agricultural production and electricity generation along the Luang Namtha plain.


The area contains a diverse array of ethnic groups who are still highly dependent on the forest and NTFPs, and living relatively traditional lifestyles.

and Tourism

The area has been identified by the National Tourism Authority of Lao as having high potential for both culture and nature tourism. A pilot project for an eco-trekking trail is planned for Nam Ha West, which is supported by a larger Luang Namtha province eco-tourism project. Boating on the Namtha river and hiking in the hills are currently being developed.


Using a threat assessment methodology (Salafsky and Margolius 1999), in August 1999, the Unit identified and ranked the following direct threats to the NBCA:

  • Slash and burn agriculture. 90% conducted by residents and 10% by outsiders.
  • Harvest of NTFPs for sale. 70% conducted by residents and 30% by outsiders.
  • Hunting of wildlife for sale. 40% conducted by residents and 60% by outsiders.
  • Harvest of NTFPs for food. 80% conducted by residents and 20% by outsiders.
  • Hunting of wildlife for food. 70% conducted by residents and 30% by outsiders.
  • Road building which is reducing habitat and improving access for hunting and harvesting by outsiders. 100% conducted by outsiders.
  • Harvest of timber resources. 50% conducted by residents and 50% by outsiders.
  • Free ranging domestic animals, which disturb wildlife populations, compete for habitat, spread diseases, and increase probabilities of depredation of livestock by wildlife. 40% conducted by insiders and 60% by outsiders.

Reasons for
Extension or

Two extension zones were added in 1999, Nam Ha West and Nam Kong. Nam Ha West whcih contain important evergreen forest and a mosaic of grasslands. Wildlife surveys (Tizard, et. al. 1997) had shown high populations of mammals and birds in some areas. The Nam Kong area adjoins the Xieng Yong Reserve in China and contains the only remaining population of Asian elephant in the area.



Mr. Phimkeo Tamlasin, Head of NBCA Management Unit, PO Box 021, Luang Namtha. Tel / Fax: 086-312349, e-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


7 staff including 4 PAFO forestry staff and 3 part-time DAFO staff from Luang Namtha, Vieng Phukka, and Nale districts. The Unit receives technical and financial assistance from the German Development Service (DED) and the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS). There are 2 Lao project support staff, provided by the WCS, two DED technical advisors based in Luang Namtha and a technical advisor from the WCS in Vientiane.



Rented office space for the Nam Ha Management Unit is provided by the WCS and located in Luang Namtha town.


1 Toyata Hilux truck, 4 motorcycles, and one generator to provide electricity for the office during the day. 4 laptop computers, printer, fax machine, library, maps, camera, GPS, binoculars, and camping equipment.

Support &

Provided by the Wildlife Conservation Society and the German Development Service since 1996. Training has included a wide range of basic skills in protected area design, management, monitoring and evaluation. Also basic job skills in English language, computers, and motor vehicle driving.


The current management activities being conducted by the Unit to reduce indirect and direct threats to biodiversity in the NBCA are outlined in the following model:

Model of Nam Ha National Biodiversity Conservation Area Project

This model shows:

1.What elements of biodiversity we are especially concerned about in the Nam Ha National Biodiversity Conservation Area (NBCA) Project

2.What the direct threats are that are believed to be reducing the biodiversity of concern

3.What the indirect threats are that may be at the root cause of the direct threats

4.What activities are being conducted by the NBCA Unit to reduce the direct and indirect threats. and the objectives of each activity type.

M=locations where monitoring is being done to determine if objectives are being reached and if that has an impact on trends in threats and biodiversity at the project site.

Click to see the real size

Other Relevant

  • EC Integrated Rural Development Project, Luang Namtha


 DOF and WCS. 1997. Luang Namtha Community-based Conservation Project: introduction to the project. October 1997. Wildlife Conservation Society, Luang Namtha.

Nam Ha Management Unit, DED and WCS. 1999. Workplan and budget for the Luang Namtha Provincial Agriculture and Forestry Office, Lao PDR. August 1999. Luang Namtha.

deKoning, M., P. Tamlasin, and Y. Yia. 1999. The process of making the natural resources management rules in Ban Nalan, experience from a target village in the 'Nam Ha' protected area, Lao P.D.R . Nam Ha National Biodiversity Conservation Area Management Unit, Luang Namtha.

Hansel, T. and Soulisak. 1999a. Nam Ha National Biodiversity Conservation Area Training Needs Assessment . July 1999. Wildlife Conservation Society, Vientiane.

Hansel, T. and Soulisak. 1999b. Basic training in biodiversity conservation and extension for the Nam Ha National Biodiversity Conservation Area. October 1999. Wildlife Conservation Society, Vientiane.

Johnson, A. 1999. Use of a Conceptual Model and Threat Assessment to Design and Monitor Effectiveness of a Protected Area in Lao PDR . A paper for presentation at the Second Regional Forum for Southeast Asia of the IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas. Pakse, Lao PDR. December 6-11, 1999.

Johnson, A., P. Phiapalath, and S. Ling. 2000. Nam Ha National Biodiversity Conservation Area training for wildlife and conservation monitoring: outline of activities and methods. January 2000. Wildlife Conservation Society, Vientiane.

Ling, S. 1998. Luang Namtha community-based conservation project: summary of village data collected in Luang Namtha province (1996-1998). Wildlife Conservation Society, Luang Namtha.

Meredith, M. E. 1997. Wildlife and conservation in Luang Namtha Province, Lao PDR. International Seminar on the Biodiversity Conservation and Sustainable Development in the Biosphere Reserve , Jinghong, China.

Phiapalath, P. 1996. The Wildlife Conservation Society/Community-Based Conservation Society: The Wildlife Conservation Project,Village Wildlife Interview Report , Luang Namtha -( Unpublished)

Phiapalath, P. 1999a. Protected areas and local people's participation in natural resource management for sustainable development: a case-study in Nam Ha Protected Area, Lao PDR . School of Environment, Resources and Development. Asian Institute of Technology, Bangkok, Thailand.

Phaiapalath, P. 1999b. Report on Nam Ha National Biodiversity Conservation Area study tour to Cong Hua Sao National Biodiversity Conservation Area. October 17-24, 1999. Wildlife Conservation Society, Vientiane.

Tizard, R., P. Davidson, K. Khounboline, and K. Salivong. 1997. A wildlife and habitat survey of Nam Ha and Nam Kong protected areas, Luang Namtha province, Lao PDR . CPAWM/WCS Cooperative Program, DoF, MAF, Vientiane, Lao PDR.

WCS. 1996. Protected areas planning workshop in Luang Namtha Province. 30 August 1996. Wildlife Conservation Society, Luang Namtha CBC Project, Luang Namtha.

WCS. 1996. Luang Namtha Community-based Conservation Project: introduction to the project. October 1996. Wildlife Conservation Society, Luang Namtha.