EC and UNDP Address Forest Management in Viet Nam’s Poor Mountainous Areas

29 Sep 2003

Ha Noi - The European Commission /UNDP Small Grants Programme to Promote Tropical Forests (EC/UNDP SGP PTF) is conducting the first regional meeting to review the programmer’s efforts since launching of the programme in nine Southeast Asian countries including Viet Nam.

The EC/UNDP SGP PTF, funded by the European Commission and administered by the UNDP, is based upon and works closely with the existing highly successful Small Grant Programme funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF/SGP).

The SGP PTF Viet Nam country programme was formally launched in January this year and has made progress towards supporting the poor ethnic mountainous communities to manage their forests and at the same time combating poverty in the region.

“The programme is a good example of EC’s new approach in strengthening EC and UN collaboration and EC’s focus on forestry in Asia. Community Forestry brings into full play all resources, including advanced technology and indigenous knowledge of the communities living in intimate relationship with the forests”, said EC Ambassador to Viet Nam, Markus Cornaro at the opening session of the workshop.

Viet Nam, like many developing countries is coping with the complex and intertwined problems of extreme poverty, rapid population growth, and environmental and natural resource degradation. Increases in population and urbanisation put great pressure on the Government’s ability to protect the forest areas. Viet Nam’s deforestation had progressed at an alarming rate. Forest cover fell from 43.7% in 1943 to 23.6% of the country’s area in 1983 due to the combined effects of agricultural encroachment, fuel wood consumption, commercial logging, shifting cultivation, overgrazing and war and fire damage. Loss of forest resource affects the whole country but which has a disproportionate negative impact on the poor. Poor ethnic minority people live on steep slopes in the northern highlands. Their livelihoods are consequently highly vulnerable to soil degradation and deforestation.

Viet Nam has sent an ambitious target of reaching 43% forest coverage by 2010 as part of its efforts toward achieving its own development goals and the UN Millennium Development Goals. The country has made major progress in forest management, protection and development, through National Reforestation Programmes, which helped to increase the forest coverage by 32.2% in 2001. Community Forestry (CF) is being given considerable attention by the Government and has the potential of becoming one of the important forest management modalities in Viet Nam. Putting a priority on sustainable development can offer a lasting solution to the twin problem of poverty and environmental degradation.

“Through initiatives such as EC/UNDP SGP PTF, creation of livelihoods can go hand-in-hand with the protection of the environment. For this innovative project to be successful ensuring the communities’ use rights of, and participation in forests and forestland management is essential. Further, the programme should be part of a national framework to support Community Forestry that links closely with the national strategy for sustainable development.” said Jordan Ryan.

Mark Sandiford, the SGP PTF Regional Programme Coordinator based in Philippines said, “The SGP PTF will benefit poor and underprivileged forest user groups. It acts as a catalyst to promote community-based management and resource use in tropical forests; it draws lessons from local experience and supports the spread of successful community-level strategies and innovations; and builds grassroots capacity to tackle problems contributing to forest destruction and degradation”.

Participants from Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Viet Nam will share experiences and draw lessons from tropical forest promotion activities implemented by country-based SGP PTF programmes and finding ways to improve their future operations.

The participants will visit to a GEF/SGP project site – success story – 160 km south of Ha Noi in Ha Nam province and Cuc Phuong National Park.

Contact Information

Mr Nguyen Hai Nam, Programme Officer at 942 1495 ext 113