Finalization of the Emission Reduction Program Document in Viet Nam

31 October 2016

mapSince the submission of the ER-PIN[1] in May 2014 to the Carbon Fund, the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF) has been supporting the Vietnamese Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) in drafting the Emission Reduction Program Document (ERPD) for in the North Central Agro-Ecological Re­gion (Fig. 1) of Viet Nam. This region covers 6 provinces comprising 2.3 million hectares of na­­tural forests and various high-value biodi­ver­sity conservation areas. The region is severely affected by forest de­gra­dation (mainly illegal logging) as well as defores­tation (forest conversion for agricultural use infrastructure development, e.g. expansion of urban and rural town areas). Within this region there is a large potential for GHG emission reductions in the LULUCF[2] sector.

An advanced draft ERP Document is available on the FCPF Vietnam Website since July 2016 and a revised version will be submitted to the Carbon Fund in October 2016. The GIZ Forest Biodiversity Project in Viet Nam contributed to this document with thematic reports on the land use planning and forest land allocation systems, as well as sustainable forest management in Viet Nam. Both reports provide an overview on the existing legal framework, a description of the challenges, and recommendation for actions as part of the ERPD. Short summaries of the two reports to the FCPF are provided below.

Land use planning and forest land allocation in Viet Nam

picture-24Two key ministries, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MONRE) and the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD), are responsible for land and forest management in Viet Nam. In general, MONRE is in charge of land management, whereas MARD is in charge of forest management. A key component in land-use planning at the local government level is the process of forest land allocation to households, which is a priority of the Vietnamese government. The mandates for implementing forest land allocations and land use planning at the local level are divided between Provincial and District Departments of MARD and MONRE, based on plans approved by Provincial and District People’s Committees. This institutional constellation for land and forests planning, allocation and management, combined with unclear mandates of subsequent bodies (DONRE/DiNRE and DARD/DiARD)[3], leads to overlaps and incoherence in the forestland boundaries on the ground. The authorities on provincial, district and communal level, moreover, work with very limited financial and human resources which leads to low quality forest land allocation (e.g. no clear and visible demarcation of forestland boundaries on the ground), discrepancies in maps between different government bodies and uncertainties in user rights. For example, the forests owners often cannot identify the borders of the forest plots which have been allocated to them. Individuals or households, moreover, still have not all received Land Use Right Certificates (“red books”) resulting in low commitment in terms of financial and human resource input. Past GTZ and KfW projects provide valuable lessons on participatory land use planning and forest land allocation on communal level. These experiences could be scaled up and fed into the legal framework in order to enable a more participatory and coordinated land use planning and forest land allocation on the local level.

Sustainable forest management (SFM) and certification in Viet Nam

The total certified forest area in Viet Nam is only ca. 160.000 ha (equivalent to 2.2% of the 7 million ha of production forest in Viet Nam). Roughly half of the certified area is natural production forest and the other half consists of timber and rubber plantations. The certified area today is still far from the national target of a certified forest area of 30% by 2020. Reaching this target will be challenging due to the management structure of State Forest Companies (e.g. limited freedom regarding operational decisions, and lack of incentives of managers for long-term forest management, etc.), the severe depletion of the majority of natural production forests (i.e. only 20% are deemed to be of “rich” or “medium” quality), and rampant illegal logging in state forests. While there is a demand for certified timber, this is limited to timber from plantations (i.e. not natural forests). There is a commitment by the government to develop national SFM standards for recognition by international certification schemes. Future measures to promote SFM in the focus area could include the capacity building of State Forest Companies (e.g. developing managerial and technical capacities), and SFM advisory service providers (e.g. enable service providers to support forest owners in SFM implementation and certification). Furthermore, an enabling environment for companies to implement SFM is necessary, specifically one that provides certainty in terms of the duration and scope of the logging-ban in natural forests which currently hinders State Forest Companies from investing in SFM. Finally, sustainable financial and management models must be developed for the large area of natural production forests in which commercial timber production has ceased (due to their poor quality) in order to ensure their recovery and protect them from conversion, agricultural encroachment and illegal logging.

[1] Emission Reduction Program Idea Note

[2] Land Use, Land Use Change and Forestry

[3] Provincial Department of Natural Resources and Environment/District Division of Natural Resources and Environment; Provincial Department of Agriculture and Rural Development/District Division of Agriculture and Rural Development