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Building Mycological Capacity for Sustainable Resource Management in Lao PDR

Image showing fungi being sold at a local market - Copyright - Andy Taylor
Lao PDR is one of Asia’s most forested countries and supports some of the richest biodiversity within the region

Lao PDR is one of Asia’s most forested countries and supports some of the richest biodiversity within the region. Fungi are pivotal organisms in forest ecosystems but in Lao their functions and diversity are virtually unknown: they are absent from the Laotian National Biodiversity Strategy to 2020. This is despite the fact that fungi are widely collected for consumption and constitute a major income source in some regions. At present, Lao is unable to: determine its national mycota (and therefore realise its commitments to the CBD); carry out mycological research, and manage fungi sustainably due to a lack of trained mycologists. A clear demand was expressed by the Lao biological community for capacity building and training to fill this gap. This project addresses this demand using workshops, by establishing national reference collections and introducing basic molecular facilities and skills. A public awareness programme is planned to raise awareness concerning fungal poisonings. In collaboration with aid agencies, the ecological and economic importance of wild fungi harvesting is assessed in selected areas, with a special case study made of the potential overexploitation threat to the highly-prized Matsutake mushroom.

Project Partners

  • Lead: Andy Taylor, James Hutton Institute.
  • CoI: Mark Newman, Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, Scotland

European Partners

  • AnneMieke Verbeken, University of Gwent
  • Thomas Laessoe, Consultant Mycologist, Denmark
  • Urmas Koljalg, University of Tartu, Estonia
  • Manfred Binder, Munich

Partners in Lao PDR

  • Biotechnology and Ecology Institute, Ministry of Science and Technology
  • National University of Laos
  • AgroBiodiversity Project (ABP) The Agro-Biodiversity Initiative
  • The AgroBiodiversity Initiative (TABI)


UK aid from the Brisith People | The Department for International Development (DFID)
Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs
The Darwin Initiative - Defra, UK Darwin Initiative: The Darwin Initiative
Project Information
Project Type: 
Active Project


Areas of Interest

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The James Hutton Research Institute is the result of the merger in April 2011 of MLURI and SCRI. This merger formed a new powerhouse for research into food, land use, and climate change.