HA NOI (VNS)— The policy to pay households for the upkeep of forests has helped alleviate poverty in many localities and improved protection of the precious natural resource, says Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Ha Cong Tuan.
Addressing a meeting held recently to discuss forestry development plans for this year, he said the Government's 2010 decree aimed to foster protection of forests and water resources as also mitigate climate change impacts.
However, Tuan also noted shortcomings in implementing the policy, including slow reimbursement of payments to those maintaining the forests and the failure of firms like investors of hydropower plants to make payments mandated for using forestry environment services.
It was proposed at the meeting that an effective mechanism is established to punish those delaying or refusing to pay their dues.
The meeting heard that by 2013, 34 provinces nationwide had established their own Fund for Forestry Protection and Development, collecting some VND2.8 trillion (US$132 million) in forest environmental services fees from investors of hydropower plants and other projects using forestry resources.
Pham Hong Luong, deputy director of the national Fund for Forest Protection and Development, said villagers paid to maintain forests had been able to earn stable incomes.
While the State pays an average fee of VND200,000 per hectare, this can rise to VND300,000 ($14) or VND350,000 ($16) in some provinces like Lam Dong and Lai Chau, he said.
Dinh Hving, a resident of Kon Pne Commune in Kbang District, Gia Lai Province, said apart from earning a living from cultivating crops on the forest area allocated to his family, they also received VND2 million ($94) from the Fund for Forestry Environmental services in 2013.
The policy encourages residents to participate in forest protection in a practical way – by giving them the chance to benefit from such actions, said Pham Xuan Truong, Vice Chairman of the Kbang People's Committee.
Another important impact of the policy is that it helps increase the nation's forest coverage by between 0.2 to 0.5 per cent each year.
The meeting heard that national forest coverage rate has increased to 40.7 percent this year from 38.7 per cent in 2008. — VNS