TBI in Viet Nam works towards a landscape where forests are protected and restored, so they can provide essential ecosystem services through the inclusion of all relevant actors in the landscape.
The work focuses on the Srepok river basin in Viet Nam’s Central Highlands, the region with the largest remaining natural forests of the country and high degree of biodiversity. The forested land accounts 45.8% of the land area. The region is also known as the major producer of agricultural export commodities. The annual deforestation is high, at around 34,000 hectares annually, mainly by illegal logging, forest encroachment and land conversion to other land use purposes, including agricultural production and infrastructure development. To address the problem, the Vietnamese government has released relevant policies to halt natural forest logging, while requesting sustainable development and investments for the Central Highlands.
In the region, there has been a wide variety of land-use types, including agricultural production, forestry plantations, animal husbandry, protected areas, and residential areas. Important cash crops include cotton, maize, tea, pepper and coffee. Coffee is an important source of income, but it has negative effects such as the amount water needed, and that is partially grown in areas that are unsuitable (e.g. slopes). Many coffee plantations are monocultures that have been established on encroached forestland, and the expansion of coffee is a driver of deforestation.
An integrated planning and decision-making at the landscape level with participation from all stakeholders, in particular communities, is lacking in the region. There is no clarity regarding the benefits of protecting and restoring the forest for the communities making the value of forest low, compared to the cultivation of cash crops, thus discouraging local people to protect the forest.
Taking into account these issues our primary concern in the Central Highlands is how to enable forest rehabilitation, thus restoring ecosystems and improving local livelihoods towards sustainable development.
What we do:
- Promote participatory restoration planning, with all relevant stakeholders including women and youth to ensure that they can represent their interest and benefit from restoration;
- Improve community involvement in the restoration of production forests and protection forests;
- Identify suitable models for restorative coffee agroforestry, together with farmers, coffee companies and relevant government agencies;
- Promote Payment for environmental services by creating an understanding of the link between forest, -water and -coffee, through a commitment by different actors and developing an effective mechanism.
- Enhance coffee certification and improve water use, by working with companies and certification bodies to promote coffee agroforestry and efficient water use.
Tropenbos International works in Viet Nam through its local network partner Tropenbos Viet Nam.
Tropenbos International has been operational in Viet Nam since 2002. In 2017, Tropenbos Viet Nam became a legal national entity of Viet Nam and a member of the Tropenbos International network.
TBI in Viet Nam has cooperated with national and international universities and research institutes to analyse and systematically evaluate the impact of both the government’s Forest Land Allocation (FLA) programme and Payment for Forest Environmental Services (PFES) policy on poverty alleviation and environmental integrity. The research findings have contributed to policy revisions, including a government directive to stop hydropower plants that do not compensate through new forest plantation establishment and a directive to halt the further expansion of rubber plantations at the cost of natural forests. In 2018, Tropenbos Viet Nam, through FORLAND, a coalition of Civil Society Organizations working in the Vietnamese forest sector, advocated for the acceptance of local communities as legal forest owners.