A new report by the German International Climate Initiative has commended the governmental policies on protecting and restoring forests in Vietnam and the country’s efforts to implement a sustainable forestry model.
The forestry sector in Vietnam, says the report, is highly dynamic and represents an illustrious example of how best to assure an optimal relationship between use of natural resources and reforestation.
After dropping from a forest cover of 43% to 27% during the period from 1943 to 1990, the government of Vietnam has taken concerted corrective actions to stabilize forest loss and to dramatically increase its forest cover.
In contrast to most other developing countries, Vietnam has successfully tackled deforestation long before REDD-plus entered the agenda of domestic and international policy discussions, and stands as a shining example of the positive results of government intervention in the forestry arena.
Reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD-plus) is a mechanism developed by Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
It creates a financial value for the carbon stored in forests by offering incentives for developing countries to reduce emissions from forested lands and invest in low-carbon paths to achieve sustainable development.
Today, deforestation is no longer a dominant issue in Vietnam, says the report.
However, degradation continues to play a significant role, especially in and around protected areas and concerns remain about the low overall quality of forests, expressed in very low biomass stocks.
For example, approximately one-third of forests in Vietnam 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 an estimated three and one-half million hectares. These plantations are managed like perennial crops in rotations between three and six years and supply the wood chip and export furniture segments of the economy.
In Vietnam, the project team behind the BMUBs project, which stands for, Business models to address drivers of deforestation, includes members from UNIQUE forestry and land use, Climate Focus and the Institute of Resources and Environment (IREN) of Hue University.
The project team, says the report, has identified and conceptualized business models focusing on restoring short-rotation Acacia plantations. The project supports national and regional REDD-plus 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.
The project, begun in 2014, runs through July 2017.
The project strategy is to support Vietnam 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 model, detailed further in the report, demonstrate how Vietnam can achieve its broader policy objectives for the forestry sector— increasing the income of forest owners and the overall economic performance of the sector.
In turn, this significantly enhances carbon sequestration in the context of REDD-plus, reduces the import dependency for the country’s processing industry, as well as improves the biodiversity of its production forests.