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Technical Procedures for Forest Rehabilitation in Viet Nam - Nguyen Huu Tien

Nguyen Huu Tien
Department of Forest Development, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Viet Nam


In Viet Nam, forest rehabilitation first received attention in the 1950s and 1960s. At that time, forest rehabilitation measures were identified as “forest restoration”. By the middle of the 1980s, the concept of “forest restoration” was officially defined as “forest rehabilitation through promoting regeneration”. In the early 1990s, forest rehabilitation measures through natural regeneration were officially promulgated through the following three sector standards:

Procedures for silvicultural techniques applied to timber and bamboo production forest (QPN 14-92), issued following Decision No. 200/QD-KT on 31/3/1993, Ministry of Forestry.

Procedures for forest rehabilitation through promoting regeneration combined with additional planting (QPN 21-98), issued following Decision No. 125/QD/BNN/KHCN on 1/11/1998, MARD.

Temporary regulations on checking and acceptance contract of forest protection and tending, issued following Decision No 162/1999/QD/BNN/PTLN on 10/12/1999, MARD.

These government standards have resulted in the regeneration of large areas in Viet Nam. A series of surveys in four provinces where Project 327 was implemented for three years (1993-1995), indicated 265 000 hectares had been restored and 871 762 hectares were considered potential areas for rehabilitation. Furthermore, survey results from 10 provinces in Northern Viet Nam revealed that an additional 6.7 million hectares need rehabilitation. These areas include 2.4 million hectares of natural forest (36.2 percent), 0.5 million hectares of plantations and about 3.8 million hectares of barren land and denuded hills (56.6 percent). Of these 6.7 million hectares, 2 million hectares have the potential to be rehabilitated through forest regeneration. During the last two years of Project 327 (1997-1998), and the first two years of Project 661 (1999-2000), about 0.5 million hectares of forest were regenerated in 10 provinces.

Other large areas were also targeted for natural regeneration. Under projects for implementation from 1998-2001, five million hectares of re-afforestation were planned, comprising 2 million hectares of protection and special-use forest and 3 million hectares of production forest. Of this total, one million hectares were targeted for natural regeneration mixed with enrichment planting in the first eight years (1998-2005) (Source: QD 661/QD/TTg, 29/7/1998).

Forest degradation and rehabilitation

Excessive logging and shifting cultivation have increased the pace of deforestation. Controls to ensure efficient forest operations and sustainable forest management, together with settled cultivation and regeneration promotion, are the most effective measures to rehabilitate the forest. Planting and protection are essential for rehabilitation of barren land. But these measures are expensive, difficult to implement, or take a long time to carry out if no regeneration techniques are concurrently applied.

Taking advantage of natural forest succession processes, it is feasible to rehabilitate about one million hectares reserved for protection and special-use forests and also for production forests in qualified areas. This process is facilitated through protection, silvicultural measures and additional planting.

With regards to forest restoration activities, five main land-use categories are distinguished in Viet Nam, according to past or present use. These land-use types are subdivided into three groups according to the desired management objectives. These land-use types and management objectives are summarized in table 1.

Table 1: Land-use types and management objectives, in relation to forest rehabilitation.

Land-use types and management objectives

Quantity of regenerating material

A. Timber tree

1. Deforested areas due to excessive logging
2. Uncultivated land with forest land characteristics
3. Grass, shrub, small trees, soil thickness over 30 cm

Each category must have 1 of the 3 following conditions:
-Generated young trees over 50 cm of height, 300 trees/hectares
-Coppice regenerated mother stem distributed equally: 150/hectares
-Natural seeding mother trees distributed equally: 25 trees/hectares or from neighboring forest

B. Bamboo
4. Rehabilitation after exploitation or shifting cultivation

-Bamboo stands with a coverage of more than 20 percent, equally distributed

C. Protection forest in critical and very critical areas
5. Remote areas that cannot be afforested within the next 10 years.

-Vegetation formation with shrub or grass more than 40 percent, over 1 m high

(Extracted from Article 6/QPN 21-98)

In order to enhance the feasibility and effectiveness of the restoration process, the prevailing conditions are assessed (timber, bamboo, critical area, remoteness of area etc). This assessment includes quantification of the material and regenerative potential of each land-use type, as indicated in Table 1. These establish the rationale for: (i) identification; (ii) selection of targets that apply to production; (iii) choice of suitable interventions; and (iv) cost-effective investments.

Time frames and evaluation criteria

Time frames for the achievement of the restoration objectives have been defined for both protection and production forests. Criteria for the evaluation of the restoration process have also be formulated. These time frames and criteria are summarized according to forest type in Table 2.

Level of interventions

Two main intervention levels have been defined for restoration purposes, namely:

1. Low-level, in which protection is the main activity; and

2. High-level, which includes the low level intervention and additional interventions depending on the restoration objectives and site requirements.

Certain measures are taken for restoration purposes on the basis of the amount of intervention required for the restoration to succeed and the desired management objectives of the rehabilitated forest. Table 3 summarizes the measures taken for both of the interventions.

Table 2: Time frames for achieving forest restoration and evaluation criteria.


Target areas

Criteria to approve forest


Target trees



Protection and special use forest

Deforestation due to
excessive logging (1)
swidden cultivation (2)
grass, shrub (3)

4-6 years

> 0.6 %

Shrubs & low storey vegetation

Restored bamboo stands


> 80 %

Critical protection forest


Shrubs > 1m in height, > 80 %

Production forest

Deforestation due to
excessive logging (1)
swidden cultivation (2)
grass, shrub (3)

5-8 years

500 trees/hectare, > 4 m of height distributed equally

> 0.5 %

Restored Bamboo stand

5-8 years

Bamboo stand > 80 %

(source: Article 6,7 QPN 21-98)

Table 3: The measures taken for the defined intervention levels



Low level

-Cattle grazing is forbidden.
-Forest fire-control measures undertaken, for fire sensitive areas.
-Cutting the regenerating target tree is forbidden.
-Harvesting of non-desirable trees and non-forest products is allowed under technical guidelines.
-Planting industrial crops by local people.

High level

-Removal of lianas and shrubs to facilitate the development of target trees.
-Piling up soil by to facilitate germination.
-Adjusting the density of target trees by thinning.
-Sowing additional seeds or planting target trees in open areas larger than one-tenth hectare.
-Trimming the stumps and tending coppices.
-Production forest: Removal of bad stems, maximum of 3 coppices are kept.
-Piling up soil around stumps and newly planted trees 1-2 times per year for 2-3 years.
-Removing poor, diseased trees and non-target trees in stands that are too dense.
-Bamboo forest: Forbid collection of bamboo shoots within restoration period. Cut and make use of all the diseased, broken, topless trees.

(source: Article 13 and 14 QPN 21-98, summarized)

Investment and benefits

The State only provides budget for protection forests and special-use forests. Budgets cover the costs of: survey, design, protection, labor and other expenses for the implementation of respective technical measures.

Investments will be adjusted, as appropriate, based on the following conditions:

Issuance and awarding of contracts to rehabilitate protection and special-use forests.

In addition to payments, contracting parties are also allowed to collect fuel wood and all non-forest products, including the products of thinning (Article 16,17, 18, 19 QPN 21-98, summarized).

The contractor’s performance and payment is checked annually. After the final checking, the contractor must complete procedures for transferring the area to the State forest enterprise (Article 20, QPN 21-98, summarized). Checking includes: (i) measurement of the area rehabilitated; (ii) evaluation of the technical measures applied; (iii) survival inventory covering 10 percent of the area or number of trees; and (iv) observation of results. The procedures include local checking and then re-checking by higher level staff (Article 5,7,8 QD 162/1999).

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