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Minutes of Open Session
CIFOR, August 9, 2004

Full English Report [177kb]


Vietnam by Dr. Do Dinh Sam and Mr. Pham Ngoc Mau

From 14 M ha of natural forest in 1943, Vietnam had only 9.8 M ha of natural forest left and less than 2 M ha of plantation forest as of 2001. The decline in natural forest cover results from overexploitation, shifting cultivation, war damage, toxic chemical defoliants, land claims, fires, and poor forestry policies and management. The decline in forest cover is accompanied by a corresponding increase in degraded forest land. Forests need to be rehabilitated to meet the rising demand for timber, NTFPs and bamboo, as well as for their important environmental functions related to watersheds, drought alleviation, carbon absorption, soil protection, landslide prevention, sand dune fixation, coastal protection and biodiversity conservation.

Vietnam wishes to increase its forest cover to 16 or 19 M ha. Past reforestation efforts include three national programs: six forestry projects under the United Nations World Food (PAM) program, the 327 program, and the latest 5 million hectare reforestation program (5MHRP). In addition, Vietnam had a scattered tree planting initiative launched by Ho Chi Minh in 1959. The 327 program towards the end started focusing largely on protection and special use forests. The 5MHRP aims to conserve biodiversity, improve the environment and livelihoods of people living on or near forest land. The program intends to restore forest cover back to 43% by protecting the remaining forests, and establishing 3 million ha of new production forest and 2 million ha of new protection and special-use forests through planting and natural regeneration.

The PAM projects managed to restore some 450,000 ha of production forest and scattered tree plantations and fruit orchards. Program 327 has managed to protect 1.6 M ha of forests largely through contracting, restore 1.5 M ha of forest through natural regeneration and industrial and fruit plantations, and create 500,000 jobs. Existing forest protected has increased to 2.4 M ha and forest restored has increased to 1.7 M ha under the 5MHRP.

The forestry and restoration-enabling environment includes the following. The land law of 1993 reviewed and amended in 1998-2003 allows households, individuals, and organizations land for long-term use. This includes 5 rights: exchange, transfer, rent, inheritance and mortgage. The law on forest protection and development from 1991 decrees that plantation and forest land are to be managed by the government. Households, individuals and organizations can be allocated land for plantation for long-term use and can be contracted forests for protection. Forest is divided into 3 management categories: Production, protection and special-use forests.

Some major lessons from the Vietnam experiences are:

  • Have national programs with clear objectives and a good package of policies
  • Implement an integrated mix of activities including protection, planting, promoting natural regeneration, extension and training support, and improving necessary infrastructure (nurseries, roads, housing…)
  • Implement rehabilitation projects in parallel with other socio-economic projects
  • Need for research and technology that supports rehabilitation
  • Ensure investment fund
  • Increase investment per ha for plantation of protection and special use forest
  • Improve credit policies
  • Provide better incentives for forest rehabilitation
  • Evaluate better the environmental value of forests (protection function, carbon absorption…)
  • Exchange experience between countries

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Discussions:

  1. The five million ha program aims to establish 3 million ha of new plantations and 2 million ha of naturally regenerated forest in 10 years by 2010. It will help improve national timber reserves and serve as a model for carbon sequestration projects.
  2. It is very difficult to rehabilitate the forest areas contaminated by toxic chemicals.
  3. There is not much private sector involvement in forestry in Vietnam and there are not many incentives to encourage the same. The benefits from forests take years to realize; too long a period of time for the private sector to borrow and repay bank loans.
  4. How do you manage to incorporate the large population (20 to 24 million people living near the forest) into the rehabilitation projects? People receive seedlings and will be able to harvest the timber in the future.

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