Villages in Vietnam – Photo by Terry Sunderland/CIFOR
Road to recovery for Vietnam’s forests
Leading the way on payments for forest environmental services
to mangroves, Vietnam’s diverse forests have taken a major hit: between 1943
and 1990, illegal logging, land-clearing and conflict destroyed vast areas of forest.
Since then, the country has taken big steps to restore its forest cover through
tree plantations, tenure reforms and allowing forests to regenerate naturally.
In just one decade, Vietnam’s payments for forest environmental services (PFES) scheme has gone from the first such program in Asia to supplying 22% of the country’s forestry budget. PFES activities have helped to protect 5.8 million hectares of forests – more than 44% of the country’s total area. To find out how well it is incentivizing people to protect forests, the government asked CIFOR, together with international, national and subnational partners, to assess the program’s effectiveness.
Overall, PFES has had a positive impact: forest cover has increased along with people’s awareness and commitment, and many communities have been able to invest revenues into clinics, schools and other village infrastructure. But the quality and biodiversity of forests continue to decrease and more research is needed to know how the scheme is affecting water quality and quantity. Funding varies widely across provincial forest protection and development funds, national parks and protected areas, with some receiving too little income to create real change.
In 2018, CIFOR was invited to present the results of the impact assessment in a meeting with 53 provincial government leaders. The Director of Finance and Planning, and the Deputy Director of the Vietnam Administration of Forestry (VNFOREST), an agency under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) have used the findings in their internal reports and have directed provincial governments to adapt their PFES planning activities in line with the recommendations.
The results were also presented at
provincial, national, regional and international conferences. The United States
Agency for International Development (USAID) is incorporating the findings into the next phase of its Vietnam
Forest Delta project, and Son La Forest Protection and Development Fund have also taken up insights from the research.
Despite the positive direction of its restoration efforts, Vietnam still has a long way to go to protect its remaining primary forests – which account for only 1% of its area but represent its richest biodiversity and carbon stocks. To raise general awareness of the value of forests, CIFOR produced a documentary in Vietnamese, which was broadcast on Vietnam National Television several times.
Forestry Development Strategy: Ten years in
CIFOR and partners are actively supporting the
adaptation and improvement of Vietnam’s forest policy. Scientists provided
technical inputs to the
Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and
co-organized national workshops, providing evidence-based insights to inform Vietnam’s
2017 Law on Forestry.
In 2018, CIFOR reviewed the country’s
Forestry Development Strategy 2006–2020, which, despite significant achievements
over its first 10 years, has been hampered by a consistent lack of funding.
The review identified obstacles to mobilizing financial resources for Vietnam’s forestry sector, along with opportunities such as PFES. The authors recommended increasing transparency and accountability, improving financial planning by targeting resources for greater returns, and finding new complementary sources of finance, along with better legal mechanisms and policies to attract the maximum amount of financial resources possible for forest protection and development.
outlined in Vietnam’s Forestry Development Strategy 2006–2020 is to boost state
capacity to manage forestry by increasing the number of trained forestry
employees by 50%.
As part of its engagement efforts, CIFOR led
intensive training on research methods and monitoring and evaluation for PFES.
To date, 25 provincial government staff and 3 national government staff have
learned monitoring and evaluation tools and techniques and can now
independently apply methods and activities.
In 2018, a manual for PFES financial management, jointly developed by the Vietnam Administration of Forestry and CIFOR, was officially endorsed and is now being used by 53 provincial government agencies.