Logging in Viet Nam
Photo: Flickr / garycycles8

A new report explores the results of Viet Nam’s policies on protecting and restoring forests, with a special focus on the country’s efforts to implement sustainable forestry models. 

The report is part of the German International Climate Initiative’s (IKI) project, financed through the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB).

Viet Nam’s forest sector is highly dynamic and represents an illustrative example of the underlying theory of forest transition that assumes a relationship between the intensive use of natural resources in early phases of a country’s economic development, followed by reforestation and mosaic landscapes. After dropping from a forest cover of 43% to 27% in the period from 1943 to 1990, the government of Viet Nam has taken concerted actions to stabilise forest loss and to drastically increase its forest cover. In contrast to most other developing countries, Viet Nam successfully tackled deforestation long before REDD+ entered the agenda of domestic and international policy discussions, and stands as an example of the positive results of government intervention in the forestry arena.

Today, deforestation is no longer a dominant issue in Viet Nam. However, degradation still plays a significant role, especially in and around protected areas. Concerns remain about the low overall quality of forests, expressed in very low biomass stocks. For example, approximately one-third of Viet Nam ́s forests are degraded and of poor quality. Much of this land has been degraded due to over-harvesting, agricultural conversion and the resulting overuse of soils. Newly established plantations, which are often made up of exotic species like Acacia and Eucalyptus, cover 3.5 million hectares. These plantations are managed like perennial crops in rotations between three and six years and supply the wood chip and export furniture industries.

In Viet Nam, the project team behind BMUB’s project “Business models to address drivers of deforestation” – which includes members from UNIQUE forestry and land use, Climate Focus and the Institute of Resources and Environment (IREN) of Hue University – has identified and conceptualised business models focusing on restoring short-rotation Acacia plantations. This project supports national and regional REDD+ implementation efforts by exploring and testing business models and accompanying institutional mechanisms to address the drivers of deforestation in a collaborative effort in partnership with government, civil society and the private sector. This project, which began in 2014, will run until July 2017.

The project strategy is to support Viet Nam in triggering a transformational change which successively replaces the increasingly less profitable Acacia wood chip business model by sustainably managed stands to produce high-value timber for sawn logs. The models, detailed further in the report, demonstrate how Viet Nam can achieve its broader policy objectives for the sector – increasing the income of forest owners and the overall economic performance of the sector, significantly enhancing carbon sequestration in the context of REDD+, reducing the import dependency for its processing industry, as well as improving the biodiversity of its production forests.

Learn more about Viet Nam’s forestry policies on InfoFLR, an IUCN-led initiative that is the first stop for news, resources, and updates on forest landscape restoration (FLR) around the world.