October, 05 2012 09:47:02

Forest scheme needs more time


Foresters on patrol at the Hang Cop special-use forest, outskirts of Da Lat City, Lam Dong Province. – VNA/VNS Photo Ngo Lich
HA NOI (VNS)— Viet Nam may need more time to prepare for the implementation of the emission reducing REDD+ initiative as many stakeholders are still getting to grips with the concept and its importance.

There is also a lot of work still needed to ensure co-ordination across sectors and improve the relevant legal frameworks.

Yet this is something ‘expected' given that REDD+ is still new world-wide and Viet Nam is among the pioneering countries who have pledged to implement this new approach, experts agreed at a workshop to share experiences of an UN project on REDD+ in Ha Noi yesterday.

REDD stands for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation, an initiative that utilises market and financial instruments to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from deforestation and forest degradation. REDD+, a newer term, adds the aspects of sustainable management of forests and enhancement of carbon stocks into the bargain.

In layman's terms, REDD+ is a scheme in which forest dwelling communities get paid for not cutting down trees by emitters as a way to balance the total emissions. These conservation efforts are quantified by measuring carbon levels.

REDD, first introduced in 2007, was a key topic at the international climate talks, where delegates agreed on the urgent need to implement it. Viet Nam was among the first developing countries to commit to both REDD-related initiatives: the World Bank – backed Forest Carbon Partnership Facility and REDD implemented by the United Nations through Norwegian funding.

The there-year UN-REDD programme in Viet Nam started in 2009 in two pilot districts of Lam Ha and Di Linh in the Central Highland Province of Lam Dong, with an aim to assist Viet Nam's Government to develop a REDD+ regime in the country.

Nguyen Truc Bong Son, who acts as the programme's figure head in Lam Dong, said that from his first-hand accounts, some local authorities were not really engaged in the programme, citing their absence from community discussions as an example.

He said another factor hindering the efficiency of the programme was the lack of local expertise.

"Even though REDD+ is by all means an international scheme, when put in practice, it should not be relied solely on international consultancy. Without the input of local insights, it could provoke doubts among residents whom we were trying to persuade into REDD+," he said.

Son pointed out that while REDD+ was all about preserving the area of forests, this objective had not been reflected in the land-use planning or socio-economic development planning at all, leading to a contradiction in inter-sectoral policies.

"Also, as at the international level, REDD+ is not finalised yet and is still being revised from one climate summit to another. This may cause confusion among people, as the procedures are changed pretty much every year," he said.

Some participants also voiced concerns about how to communicate such a complicated concept as REDD+ to grassroots people in an effective way. As Pham Quoc Hung from Viet Nam Administration of Forestry pointed out: "The awareness raising activities so far have often been more confusing than informative."

The programme's national director Pham Minh Thoa said one important thing it would need to accomplish in the upcoming phase was to engage the private sector, adding that participation in the first phase was poor.

"The private sector, particularly in this case coffee and rubber companies, will play an important role because if they invest in increasing production efficiency, they will be able to generate more profit on the existing land without the need to convert the forestry land," she said.

She said the second phase of the programme would deal with amending the relevant legal frameworks including the legal status of communities and carbon rights, as well as continuing the policy dialogues with other sectors including agriculture and fishery to safeguard policies.

Deputy Director of the Viet Nam Forestry Administration Nguyen Ba Ngai said his agency would continue to complete the forest inventory system and forest certification scheme which are vital checkpoints for REDD+ to run smoothly.

Thoa revealed that both Viet Nam and Norway had basically agreed on what to be run in the second phase of the UN-REED programme and both sides were expected to sign the agreement during the pre-COP18 Ministerial Meeting in Seoul later this month. — VNS

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