|Rangers patrol a pine forest in Da Lat. The forestry sector will attempt to increase the national forest coverage rate to 41.5 per cent this year—VNA/VNS Photo Ngo Lich
HA NOI (VNS)— The forestry sector will strive for a 4.5 per cent growth in annual production (in terms of value) and a 20 per cent growth in forestry product exports in 2014.
The figures were announced by Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) Ha Cong Tuan at the annual plenary meeting of the Forestry Sector Support Partnership (FSSP) in Ha Noi yesterday.
"The sector faces several challenges," he said, adding that it would have to constantly improve efficiency for the sake of sustainable development, while ensuring the livelihoods of more than 25 million Vietnamese who make a living from forest-related activities.
The deputy minister said the forestry sector is the first in the agricultural industry to complete its restructuring process, which had been approved by MARD earlier.
According to the restructuring process, the sector will create large timber plantations, covering an area of 1.2 million hectares, to provide raw materials for the wood processing industry. Improving the capacity and efficiency of the wood processing industry is another major challenge. The restructuring also calls for improving the various economic segments under the forestry sector. A part of the plan is to have state agencies directly manage 50 per cent of the country's forests.
Among the goals for this year, the sector will attempt to increase the forest cover rate to 41.5 per cent and strive to gradually meet timber demand for both domestic production and exports. That will create new jobs, facilitate poverty reduction and promote protection of the environment.
Meanwhile, the forestry sector will continue to manage the existing 16 million hectares of forests and related land.
One of the major measures carried out by the ministry has been to co-operate on forest management to sustainably develop these resources until 2020. Under this approach, the State allocates forest land to local management boards, enterprises and residents. These three parties are expected to work together and share the responsibilities of protecting and developing their allotted forests, while enjoying the benefits from these resources.
Another project by MARD aims to improve the management of the timber industry. Under this project, the exploitation of natural timber has been halted in natural forests across the country between 2013 and 2020, apart from two sites approved by the government.
Timber exploitation will only be allowed in designated forests that are allocated to individuals, households and communities.
International partners, meanwhile, applauded Viet Nam's efforts in undertaking a restructuring of the forestry sector with the aim of increasing the value added from the sector and promoting sustainable development.
"Such efforts have enabled Viet Nam to not only obtain remarkable results but also better position itself on the global map, international forums and markets," said Juergen Hess, co-chair of the FSSP.
Last year, Viet Nam actively participated in international initiatives to cope with climate change, such as the REDD+, FCPF, the Carbon Fund and the FLEGT Initiative. Given the likely success in its efforts to address climate change, Viet Nam has become the first country among 48 nations in the UN-REDD to continue to the second phase. The country has also received a non-refundable assistance of US$30 million for its efforts.
Currently, Viet Nam has more than 10 million hectares of natural forests.
A report by MARD's Forestry General Department said the sector's output grew 6 per cent in 2013 compared with the previous year, while timber and forestry products exports increased 15 per cent to $5.5 billion. —VNS