Previous Page Table of Contents Next Page

16 The role of forestry in poverty reduction, biodiversity conservation and Clean Development Mechanism in Viet Nam

Trieu Van Hung[25]


In Viet Nam the forest area was 10.9 million ha in the year 2000, covering 33.2 percent of the county’s total physical area. Following a long period of forest degradation the situation has begun to stabilize after 1995. But the share of this sector in the national economy is not high and its trend is going down. Nevertheless, the sector plays an important role for more than 24 million people living in or around forests, especially the 8.5 million people of the ethnic minorities. The role of non-timber forest products (NTFPs) is very important for rural households, creating economic opportunities for communities, particularly for the poor in high mountainous and remote areas. Viet Nam is one of the most important centres of biodiversity with a very high potential of non-timber forest products. With the policy of sustainable development, the Forest Science Institute of Viet Nam is strengthening its capability in research and development, focusing not only in wood production, but also in stable/reasonable utilization of forest resources, biodiversity conservation and application of Clean Development Mechanism.


Viet Nam has a total area of 32.89 million ha. The forest area was 10.92 million ha in the year 2000. Forests cover 33.2 percent of the land, of which natural forests occupy 86.52 percent and plantations 13.48 percent. There is a total woodstock of 751.5 million square meters and 8.4 billion bamboo stamps.

Before 1995, the natural forest was badly damaged. The number of high economic value trees and non-timber forest products was reduced remarkably. Reasons for forest loss were rapid increase of population, the need for economic development, shifting cultivation, uncontrolled migration and establishment of new economic areas. The forestry management mechanism is not effective and does not meet the purpose of forest protection and development; for example, there is a lack of effective mechanism to implement a sound conversion of forested land into agricultural land or other purposes. The motivation for forest protection and development is still weak.

The changes in the forest area through the years are shown in Table 1 (below):

Table 1: Forested area in Viet Nam, 1943-2000

Unit: 1000 ha


Natural forest

Plantation forest


Forest cover (%)


9 444

1 471

10 916



8 252

1 050

9 305



8 430


9 175



9 308


9 892



10 486


10 908



11 077


11 169



14 300


14 300



Since 1995, in line with the economic restructuring of the country, Viet Nam forestry has been developing smoothly with some changes and a shift in focus from utilization to conservation and development of the forest. The trend is reflected in the conversions of (i) the natural forest to plantation and development of forest industries, (ii) governmental and state forestry into social forestry with multi-organizations including the involvement of the private sector, (iii) centralized mechanism into decentralized mechanism; and (iv) economic purpose, domestic forestry market to a multi-purpose international market based on sustainable use of forest.

Besides meeting the domestic requirements, forestry has seen its export value increasing steadily:






Export value (million US$)





Although the export value is increasing, the percentage of forestry production in the forestry-agriculture-fishery sector is going down:






Value rate (%)





Compared with the total national economy, the value rate of forestry production is very small with a falling trend:







Value rate (%)






Forestry production is concentrated mainly in logging and forest products processing, which from 1985 to 1999, took up 72.72-79.6 percent of all forestry activities, forest plantation and forest tending 13.05-17.88 percent, and other activities 3.85-12.96 percent only.

In order to protect and develop the forest, the government has laid down a policy to limit logging:






Logging (1000 m3)





Although the forestry sector contributes only a very small portion to the national economy in Viet Nam and its direct economic value is not high, it plays an important role in the people’s livelihood, especially in forested and rural areas.


In 2002 the total population of Viet Nam was about 82 million people, of which more than 24 million people were living in or around forested areas. Over 8.5 million people come from the ethnic minorities. Although a rapid change is taking place in the economy and society at this moment, wood, fuelwood and non-timber forest products still play an important role in the livelihood of the ethnic minorities. According to the Administration Unit, Viet Nam has 61 provinces with approximately 10 500 communes, of which 57.1 percent are at mountainous, upland and remote areas. There are 1175 communes in deprived conditions. These are the poorest people and their livelihood depends on forests; nevertheless this group impacts strongly on the forest resources and forest degradation.

The Vietnamese Government has long encouraged the participation of the people in forestry activities for poverty reduction. In implementing forest and land allocation, thousands of farmer households have received long-term forest lands and rights to do business by themselves on the allocated land. Many national programmes have been carried out with good results, including:


Viet Nam’s National Action Plan on Biodiversity was developed in 1995 by the former Ministry of Forestry in cooperation with the State Committee of Sciences and some international organizations such as the WWF, UNDP and IUCN. With the implementation of the Biodiversity Action Plan, investment in biodiversity has been improved, up to 1998 mainly on reforestation at 72 percent, buffer zone development 16.1 percent, biodiversity conservation 6.14 percent, and scientific research and basic investigation 2 percent.

The special-use forest system was established over a total area of about 2.1 million ha, including 17 national parks, 47 national reserves, 13 habitat/species areas and 18 land/seascape areas.

With more than 12 000 plant species and 7000 animal species, Viet Nam is one of the important centres of biodiversity in the world. The potential of non-timber forest products (NTFPs) is very high. However, although NTFPs have been properly exploited, their sustainable management is still limited.

Strengthening public awareness is one of the important achievements in improving biodiversity conservation and integration of forestry, biodiversity conservation and environment protection. In reforestation and forest enrichment, using indigenous tree species has been given more attention. Currently, there are more than 30 species, including rare, endangered species in use for plantation.

In forestry, the importance of NTFPs to rural households and upland areas in Viet Nam cannot be underestimated, especially for the poor and remote households. NTFPs can create economic opportunities for these communities, with simple technologies in collecting, planting and preprocessing. For example, households in Bac Ha district of Lao Cai province have begun to grow Amomum aromaticum, harvesting an average of 200-300 kg of fruit per year, in some cases, as much as 500-1000 kg, equivalent to 20-30 million VND, which is 10-20 times higher than rice cultivation on the same area (Nguyen 2001).

Table 2. NTFPs harvested from 1995 to 1999


Unit (trees)







Thousand stems

67 026

720 858

174 189

172 649

171 000

Neohouzeaua dullooa

Thousand stems

108 500

104 779

105 175

248 310

150 000

Phyllostachys spp.

Mllion stems

15 600

24 664

2 649

12 197

100 000



28 500

25 975

25 639

80 097

65 700

Pine resin


5 350

1 348

6 387

6 777

7 182

Anise fruits


1 870

6 672

9 896

9 500

5 000



7 790

3 658

3 954

2 100

2 900

Bamboo shoots


32 500

30 887

13 789

Source: MARD, Ha (2001).


After the seminar on “Opportunities and Perspectives for Implementation of Clean Development Mechanism in Asia-Pacific Countries” in Hanoi, 1999, CDM awareness has improved in Viet Nam. The practicality of CDM can be seen in its relationship to forestry issues. The potential of forestry CDM in Viet Nam is at the policy level in the orientation of forestry development in areas such as protection of existing forested areas, forest restoration, land rehabilitation, social forestry and commercial plantations for paper and pulp, timber and other products.

The National Five Million-Hectares Reforestation Programme holds an opportunity for CDM application with different types of projects: forest protection (watershed management, sand-dune stabilization, soil and water conservation); special-use forests (national parks, nature reserves, recreation forest); large-scale industrial/production forests (pulp and paper, particleboard, sawn-log plantations); community/farm-level plantations (majority).

As an example, the on-going project of the Research Centre for Forest Tree Improvement of the Forest Science Institute of Viet Nam, founded by the International Greenhouse Partnership Office (IGPO), is being implemented within the CDM framework. By using improved and selected seed sources of Acacia auriculiformis and Eucalyptus terreticornis for plantation at 1600 ha y-1, the growth yield increases of 15-20 percent mean a carbon sequestration of 6000 tonnes y-1 equivalent to 22 000 tonnes CO2 y-1 more than by using normal seed sources of the same species. More important is the raising of CDM awareness in forestry.


1. Enhancing awareness of the relationship between forestry, poverty reduction and biodiversity conservation

In forested areas, the division of labour is lower than that in other areas; therefore enhancement of the awareness of the role of forest for the local people is very important. To ensure sustainable socio-economic development, forest protection and development are basic conditions for long-term benefit. The need for poverty reduction, economic development and forest resource protection must be considered in harmony with Clean Development Mechanism. There are no two opposite issues.

2. Stable land-use planning

In general, the Government of Viet Nam pays great attention to land-use planning. However, in practice the feasibility and effectiveness of land-use planning projects do not meet the requirements of sustainable development. There has been no clear definition of stable forestry for each region with three types of forests: production forest, protection forest and special-use forest. Therefore planning needs to be done initiatively and based on a need for economic restructuring in each region. Planning has to be made according to intersector approach to ensure a balanced and feasible implementation.

3. Reasonable resource utilization

This is a need to develop effective production models like agriculture-forestry and agriculture-forestry-fishery farming systems, where appropriate technologies can be applied. Selecting crop structure, animals and farming techniques suited to the physical conditions and characteristics of each region (for example, cultivation on sloping land) must be linked to marketability to ensure high and sustainable effectiveness. In addition, new technical advances and traditional indigenous knowledge of each community should be combined for best results.

4. Socio-economic and policy issues

Forest and land allocation policy has helped many farmer households to establish some effective production models. However, there are some problems such as improper distribution of settlements in the planning process, and poor economic and production states in some households. Policies for the three types of forest, protection forest, special-use forest and production forest, are not well defined with the benefits for the forest owners not clearly shown. In general, there is still lack of a sound forestry policy system to motivate active participation of the people in forest protection and development.

5. Forestry research

In order to strengthen the role of forestry in poverty reduction, biodiversity conservation and application of Clean Development Mechanism, some questions need to be answered and constraints addressed for forestry research in Viet Nam. They include:


General Statistical Office. 2000. Statistical data of Viet Nam agriculture, forestry and fishery, 1975-2000. pp. 7-10. Hanoi.

Ha, C.C. 2001. Mot vai y kien ve che bien lam dac san. Thong tin chuyen de Khoa hoc Cong nghe va Kinh te. Trung tam thong tin, Bo Nong nghiep va Phat trien Nong thon. So 1 nam 2001. (Some ideas on processing NTFPs in Viet Nam). MARD. Hanoi.

Ha, C.C., De Beer, J. & Tran, Q.T. 2000. Non-timber forest products subsector analysis - Viet Nam. Hanoi.43 pp.

MARD. 2001a. Forestry development strategy of Viet Nam 2001-2010. Hanoi. 75 pp.

MARD. 2001b. Lam nghiep Viet Nam 1945-2000 (Viet Nam Forestry 1945-2000). Hanoi, Agricultural Publishing House.

MARD. 2001c. Master plan for agricultural research in Viet Nam. UNDP/FAO VIE 98/019.08. Hanoi.

MARD. 2001d. 5 million ha reforestation programme. Hanoi. 15 pp.

Morris, J. 2002. Report on an indigenous knowledge study in Ba Be. NTFP Project - Phase I. Hanoi.

Nguyen, V.T. 2001. Quan ly va bao ve nguon cay thuoc tren nui da voi o Viet Nam. Thong tin chuyen de Khoa hoc cong nghe va Kinh te. Trung tam thong tin, Bo Nong nghiep va Phat trien Nong thon. MARD. Hanoi.

Nguyen, V.T. 2002. Potential and current situation of medical plant resources in Viet Nam. Hanoi.

Trieu, V.H., Nguyen, X.Q. & Hoang, C. 2002. Ky thuat trong mot so loai cay dac san rung. (Technical plating of some species for NTFPs). Hanoi, Agricultural Publishing House. 184 pp.

[25] Forest Science Institute of Viet Nam, Hanoi, Viet Nam; E-mail: [email protected]

Previous Page Top of Page Next Page