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Ethnic minorities go green

Update: July, 21/2010 - 09:18
LAM DONG — Ethnic minority people in the Central Highlands province of Lam Dong have agreed to work together to fight against climate change.

More than 5,500 people, who were primarily from the Co Ho ethnic group, along with 24 interlocutors from the United Nation Collaborative Programme on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries (UN-REDD Programme) are currently working together on a sustainable development plan, after 78 village meetings.

The REDD programme aims to establish projects that provide a financial incentive to locals who preserve the forest for carbon credits. The programme was established during the 11th Convention of the Parties at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change that was held in Montreal, Canada, in 2005. Viet Nam has been the first UN-REDD pilot country.

The local residents of Di Linh District's Bao Thuan Commune are hosting one of UN-REDD's two pilot projects in the country. Participating locals have already received educational material about climate change, REDD and UN-REDD activities that will be implemented in the area.

"It is not easy to make people here understand the UN-REDD programme and the benefits that they will reap from the project," said K' Bril, deputy chief of Bao Thuan Commune.

"We are people of the forest, we have loved the forest for our entire lives, but now we really understand the importance of the ecosystem," said K' Breoh, a local resident.

"The forest is like our lungs that provides us with cool air and a fresh environment," said K' Breoh. "Without it, we will suffer from hot weather and flooding."

K' Breoh suggested that the programme managers and government leaders pay more attention to the locals' concerns.

Living in the Central Highlands, most of ethnic communities grow coffee and corn, which often leads to illegal deforestation.

Local communities have been instructed to begin reforesting the area, which might have an adverse effect on their income.

"We have agreed to take part in the programme, but we also hope that our leaders will bring more jobs here," said K' Breoh. "A regular and stable income will allow us to reforest the area with a peaceful mind because we won't have to worry about feeding our family."

"The results that we have pocketed are not considerable because it is the very first step of the programme so we still need help from the local government leaders," said Pham Minh Thoa, UN-REDD national programme director.

If the pilot programme in Lam Dong Province is effective then UN-REDD plans to continue working in the area.

"People understand the importance of the forest because it provides sustenance to the communities that live there," said Hua Duc Nhi, deputy minister of the Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD).

"UN-REDD is a new programme in Viet Nam and I hope it will support people to improve their living standards."

Viet Nam has recently received US$4.5 million from the Norwegian government for the programme which are being implemented by MARD in collaboration with three UN agencies, UNDP, FAO and UNEP. — VNS

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