The Nam Ha National Protected Area was established in 1993 with the introduction of the Lao PDR protected area system. Located in Luang Namtha province in northern Lao PDR, the National Park spans five districts and covers 222,400 hectares. Luang Namtha is home to more than 20 different ethnic groups, making it a remarkable repository of ethnic diversity and indigenous knowledge.
Nam Ha is the fourth largest National Protected Area in the country and stretches as far as the Chinese border (Thamlasine, undated). It is also the fourth largest protected area in the northern Indochina subtropical forest zone and an extremely important watershed. The watershed is the first major tributary of the Mekong River after it enters Lao PDR and supports agricultural production and electricity generation along the Luang Namtha plain. In 1999, the protected area of Nam Ha was expanded with two extension zones: Nam Ha West and Nam Kong.
Nam Ha West has an important evergreen forest and a mosaic of grasslands. Wildlife surveys reported high populations of mammals and birds in some areas, like the Nam Kong area adjoining the Xieng Yong Reserve in China, which contains the only remaining population of Asian elephant in the country (Tizard, et al. 1997).
In the biological prioritization of the country's 20 protected areas where national species were analyzed, Nam Ha ranked third for birds and fifth for large mammals. Overall, Nam Ha ranked third in the national management priority index based on biodiversity and watershed values, ecotourism potential, and the level of pressure on the site.