European Commission and UNDP launch a Small Grants Program for Operations to Promote Tropical Forests

Jan 21, 2003

Ha Noi - The European Commission (EC) and the UN Development Programme (UNDP) jointly launched today a $Euro 1.83 million Small Grants Programme for Operations to Promote Tropical Forests (SGP PTF) in Viet Nam. The programme helps local communities promote community forest management and preserve the forests as the country pursues its drive for economic development.

This programme is part of a regional Small Grants Programme with a total grant of $Euro 165 million, funded by the EC and implemented by UNDP to carry out for a period of five-year SGPto promote tropical forests PTF in nine Asian countries including Viet Nam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Pakistan, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, and Thailand.

The main objective of thise projectgramme is to encourage and support local Non Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and Ccommunityies-based Organizations (CBOs), who are often have little access challenge by lacking of opportunity to access to sufficient fundto financial and technical resources, to undertake community-led projects and activities in community forestryinnovative approaches to sustainable forest management at the local level, contributing to promoting the sustainable management of tropical forests and poverty alleviation.

Theis programme effort targets groups of poor communities who are dependent on forests for their livelihoods, and, which has its target groups of poor forest-dependent communities, will make available grants for initiatives such as to enhance their capacitiesy development and establishment ofand partnerships between the various local stakeholders for in forestry development and management that contribute to the better sustainable development.

"Experience worldwide demonstrates that community action can maintain the fine balance between human needs and environmental imperatives. Through the SMP, we want to recognize and promote the essential role of local communities in the protection of environmental and natural resources in Viet Nam", said Mr. Frédéric Baron, Ambassador, Head of the EC Delegation to Viet Nam. Support for innovative sustainable forest management at the local level and building grassroots level capacity to tackle problems that are contributing to forest destruction and degradation are essential elements of the EC's support to Vietnamsaid Mr. Frédéric Baron, Ambassador and Head of the Delegation of the EC to Viet Nam.

Viet Nam, like many developing countries, has to cope with the dual problems of extreme poverty and environmental and natural resource degradation. Increases in population and urbanisation are putting more pressure on the ability to protect the envirnatural resources and environment.

According to the 1999 forest inventory, total forest area was 10.9 million ha accounting for 33.2% of the total natural land area, of which natural forests occupied 9.4 million ha and plantation forests 1.5 million ha. Despite theirtheir great economic potential, forests and forestry accounts for only 2% of the country's GDP or US$ 2 billion per year. According to the National Forestry Development Strategy 2001-2010, d

Deforestation has progressed at an alarming rate. Forest cover decreased from 67% to 29% of the total land area between 1943 and 1991. During the period 1976 œ 1990, an estimated 185,000ha of natural forest cover was lost per year.r according to the National Forestry Development Strategy 2000-2010.

The main causes of forest degradation are agricultural encroachment, fuel wood consumption, commercial logging, shifting cultivation, overgrazing, war and fire damage.

"We are delighted that The past couple of years has seen rapid economic growth which has improved the life of the Vietnamese people. But we are worried that short-term economic gains are often made at the expense of depleting natural resources", said Mr. Jordan Ryan, UNDP Resident Representative. What is at stake is important since 70% of the Viet Nam's population earns their living by utilizing the natural resources of the country.

Sustainable development, Ryan said, can offers a more lasting solutions to the twin problems of poverty and environmental degradation:. "We hope that through initiatives such as this, it can be demonstrated that the creation of livelihoods together with the protection of the environment, is best achieved when communities are able to participate in and manage such decision and processes that directly affect their lives" eeconomically, to ensure better livelihoods for people by creating jobs; socially, to foster greater equity; and even politically, to dodge conflicts over resources and ensure greater involvement by the people in decisions affecting their lives.

This programme provides grants of up to US$55,000 to Vietnamese CBOs and NGOs e.g Youth Union, Women's Union, Farmers' Union, Veterans' Association at local level for activities that promoting of community forestry issues.

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