IN July, a hydroelectric dam collapse in Laos released five billion cubic meters of water into surrounding countryside – the equivalent of two million Olympic swimming pools. The resulting flood killed dozens, devastated communities, forced thousands to flee and ripped through areas of protected rainforest.
The catastrophe made headlines globally; initial reactions focused, understandably, on the impact of local communities, but what is yet to be reported is the lasting, detrimental effects on the region’s forests. The catastrophe primarily affected the southern province of Attapeu, an area bordered by Cambodia to the south and separated from Vietnam by the Annamite mountain range. Visiting the area now is challenging to say the least.