All land in Laos is owned by the government. Individuals can own land-use permits, but in many of the poorest rural areas these traditional rights are poorly documented. Stora's model in Laos is to lease land for 30-50 years. To do so requires visiting local communities to discuss if land is available, and then negotiating with local government about whether this land is suitable. The rental money is shared by both national and regional government and the local communities.
To ensure transparency and fairness, Stora is working with a local Lao development organisation called Village Focus International (VFI) which works to protect, empower and educate rural communities, including ethnic groups. Rather than simply making a one-off cash payment, the rental money for the local communities is paid into a village development fund in several instalments. The community decides how to spend this money. In Kenglouang the first village we visited, it had been spent on installing electricity. We also learnt from conversations with village leaders that almost no-one had employment outside the village, so they felt it was important that Stora employed local people wherever possible to clear the sites and plant the trees.