Payments for forest environmental services (PFES) in Vietnam: Findings from three years of implementation

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The sustainable management and protection of Vietnam's forests and landscapes is vital for the health and well-being of its rural communities. Forests play a crucial role in protecting watersheds, preventing soil erosion, maintaining the water cycle, and fighting climate change. Timber and non-timber forest products (NTFPs) are an important source of income and nutrition. But economic development and growing demand for food, energy and wood resources are putting increasing pressure on Vietnam's forests and landscapes. To protect these vital ecosystem services, in 2010 the Government of Vietnam became the first country in Asia to institutionalize a nationwide policy on PFES. Mandated through Government Decree No.99, the PFES policy requires users of forest environmental services to make payments to suppliers of these services. Services, as outlined in Decree 99 include: watershed protection; natural landscape beauty protection and biodiversity conservation for tourism; forest carbon sequestration and the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions through the prevention of deforestation and forest degradation; and the provision of the forest hydrological services for spawning in coastal fisheries and aquaculture. Vietnam's Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD), which is responsible for implementing PFES, has successfully issued procedures andestablished fixed payments for watershed and landscape beauty protection services. In addition, they have identified forest environmental service users as water supply companies, and hydropower plants and tourism companies; and suppliers as forest owners - individuals, households, communities or organizations who hold forested land titles. Currently, MARD is developing a framework to capture payments for the forest's hydrological services provided the aquaculture sector, and is linking payments for forest carbon sequestration services to the UN-led REDD+ scheme (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation), which is moving into the pilot phase. Suppliers of forest environmental services are forest owners - individuals, households, communities or organizations who hold forested land titles.

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